Captivology is about the science and psychology of attention; why we pay attention to certain people, products, companies and ideas; and how to capture, maintain and grow attention. My book pairs the research of the world’s greatest scientists and psychologists in attention theory with the stories from the world’s Masters of Attention.
The book dives into topics such as:
The role scarcity and working memory play on our attention.
How Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto created one of the world’s most iconic characters.
The power that framing and salience have in directing our attention.
The secret sauce of disruptive campaigns and viral products.
Sheryl Sandberg on the power of motivation when it comes to capturing attention.
During the course of my research, I have had the opportunity to interview more than 50 scientists, researchers, experts and Masters of Attention. I’m grateful to thought leaders such as Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook), Dr. Alan Baddeley (leading researcher in working memory), Steven Soderbergh (famed director), Alexis Ohanian (founder of Reddit), Dr. Michael Posner (leading cognitive psychologist), Jeff Weiner (CEO, LinkedIn), Adrian Grenier (actor, producer and director), Dr. Eli Finkel (expert on attraction), Grant Imahara (Discovery’s Mythbusters), Susan Cain (NYT bestselling author, Quiet), Jon Armstrong (Magician, Chairman of the Academy of Magical Arts), Dr. John Sweller (leading expert on cognitive load), Alexia Tsostis (Co-Editor, TechCrunch), Shigeru Miyamoto (Nintendo), Josh Elman (Partner, Greylock), Dr. Dietram Scheufele (Expert on Communications, Framing), Michael Stevens (creator, Vsauce), and many more who have taken time our of their days to chat with me for this book.
Above: A screenshot from my interview with Adrian Grenier and Dr. Thomas De Zengotita. A special thanks to NASDAQ for letting me use their studios for the interview.
If you have suggestions for my book, please email me at email@example.com with your ideas! I’m especially looking for interesting people to interview and unique stories about how you or somebody you know captured the attention of an individual, an audience or the entire world. A major reason we’re announcing the book now is to gather great stories for the book that I might have otherwise missed.
I hope to complete this research-heavy book in the next few months, so please forgive me if I’m much slower than usual responding to your emails, texts and tweets until then.
A Few Other Announcements
I’m working on Captivology on top of my day job as Co-founder and Managing Partner of DominateFund, the early-stage venture capital firm I started last year with Matt Schlicht and Mazy Kazerooni. We’ve expanded the fund from its original focus on connecting Hollywood with tech, though that is still a component of what we do. Our focus now is on helping startups capture attention for their products and accelerate their growth through our expertise in five key areas: Strategic Celebrity Partnerships, Press, Marketing, Customer and User Acquisition, and Building Viral Products. The fund is the reason I decided to write this book.
We will be making more announcements about DominateFund in the near future, including several new additions to our team and updates on ouramazingportfoliocompanies.
Because I had all of this on my plate, CNET and I decided to retire The Social Analyst, my column at CNET, last year. I want to thank CNET, and especially Jim Lanzone, Mark Larkin and Jim Kerstetter, for being so supportive of me and my column, for being amazing bosses, and for putting up with me and my hectic schedule.
I won’t be bringing The Social Analyst back. At least, not in its current form. The column, which I started at Mashable in 2009, has been my place to opineonthemostpertinentissuesintech. CNET was kind enough to let me continue my column.
I will eventually be back writing columns and thought pieces on a regular basis, but ones that are about more than just technology. There is a mountain of research from my book I want to discuss and advice I want to dispense for every entrepreneur who struggles to get the attention of users or artist who wants to be heard. I also have a lot of other insights in media, entrepreneurship, investing and science I hope to eventually share.
One final announcement — I’m proud to announce that I have signed with the Worldwide Speakers Group, which now represents me for all my speaking engagements. You can check out my speaking topics or book me by sending a message to Keith Lambert at KLambert@wwsg.com or calling WWSG at 703-373-9806. I primarily speak about attention, attention for brands, innovation, technology and entrepreneurship.
I want to thank a few people right now for all of their help the last few months. Thank you to everybody I’ve interviewed for the book so far. A special thanks to the best agent in all of publishing, David Vigliano, for always having my back. The same is true of Will LoTurco, who works with Vig. Thank you Marcy Simon and Melinda Mullin, for going above and beyond the call of duty for me. Thank you to my editor, Genoveva Llosa, for being just sensational. Thank you to my partners Matt Schlicht and Mazy Kazerooni for being my unofficial brothers (Nat, you too). A thank you to Hallie, my badass EA. Thank you to my family (love you mom & dad!), and finally a special thank you to my girlfriend Julie, for being my rock.
Onward and upward!
Thank you for kindness,
I’m thrilled to announce the launch of “Startup Attention & PR 101: From Launch to Damage Control and Beyond“, my 19-lecture online Udemy course. I’m also thrilled to announce that half of the course’s proceeds will be donated to THRIVE-GULU, a not-for-profit dedicated to building rehabilitation and community centers across Africa, starting with Gulu, Uganda.
“Startup Attention & PR 101″ is a deeper look at how to better work with the press. This is not a course about traditional PR. Instead, it’s a deeper dive into what makes a journalist tick and how you can can take advantage of that for your company or cause.
The course covers four broad themes:
How Journalists Think
How to Launch a Product
How to Keep Users Interested
How to Deal With a Press Crisis
This course won’t make you a journalist’s best friend, but I hope it will give you more clarity to how journalists make decisions and how that affects you and your company.
As I noted above, I am donating half the proceeds from this course to THRIVE-GULU. Thrive was founded in 2010 by Professor Judy Dushku to assist the communities of Northern Uganda to heal from the traumatic events of war, sexual enslavement, extreme poverty and lost opportunities. It’s a charity I’m honored to have supported in the past, and one I’m thrilled I can support now with this course.
So take the course, tell your friends and send me some feedback, because I will be adding more material based on your feedback.
BenParr.com has become dynamic and social, thanks to RebelMouse.
A year or two ago, I created almost ALL of my content via blogging. I wrote 2,400+ articles on Mashable, and I was blogging pretty often on BenParr.com.
Things have changed, though. Much of the content I would normally blog about appears instead on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Socialcam. Sure, I still blog (have you seen my awesome CNET Column yet?), but I’m spending almost all of my time on work that doesn’t involve blogging (announcements soon).
As a result, BenParr.com got stale and static. It was boring. The last blog post on it was more than a month old. It didn’t reflect all the things I’m doing. It didn’t represent a dynamic life, and it didn’t incorporate all of my activity on the web.
So I asked my friends at RebelMouse to help me fix that. You will notice that the homepage of BenParr.com has been completely transformed — it now contains all of my social activity, in one neat little package. It updates automatically, whether it’s my column from CNET or a new Socialcam video. It feels like my blog has come back from the dead.
Thank you Megan Berry and the RebelMouse team for helping make this happen. And Thanks to Lerer and TC for the inspiration.
Expect more improvements in the coming months (you’ll notice the width of the main column has been expanded), along with a new coat of paint sometime next year. And as always, if you want to see past BenParr.com posts, you can just hop over to the Archives.
Let me know what you think of the new BenParr.com in the comments!
I’m thrilled to announce that THRIVEGulu, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to building and operating a trauma healing and rehabilitation center in Gulu, Uganda, raised more than $72,000 during its launch gala in San Francisco!
THRIVE, formerly THARCE-Gulu, was founded in 2010 by Suffolk University professor Judy Dushku. Its original goal: to assist the communities of Northern Uganda to heal from the traumatic events of war, sexual enslavement, extreme poverty and lost opportunities.
THRIVE has already had an impact on northern Uganda through its Ugandan-led workshops and courses, including computer literacy, women’s empowerment and art programs. But the goal is to build a center in the heart of Northern Uganda that the Ugandans can use permanently for education, rehab and community programs. And once it has perfected the model in Uganda, THRIVE hopes to bring new centers to other African communities in need.
That’s why THRIVE decided to step up its fundraising efforts, starting with a very successful launch gala that THRIVE board member Eliza Dushku and I co-hosted with famed director Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, The Avengers). More than 150 members of the technology community came out in support of THRIVE’s efforts.
Between ticket sales for the event and the silent auction, THRIVE was able to raise more than $72,000. Thank you to everyone who donated to THRIVE, and thank you to everybody who helped make the event an incredible success. So many people volunteered their time, energy and networks to help THRIVE make waves in the tech community and beyond. Thank you Sabrina, Shirley, Brett, Hooman, Brooke, Shira, Randi, Rick, Redg and the dozens of others who made this event happen.
This is just the beginning, though. THRIVE is going to make a huge impact with these donations, but it still needs more to make the center a reality. So please, tell your friends about the charity, ask them to donate, and check out the THRIVE fundraiser on eBay. And don’t forget to follow THRIVE on Twitter, THRIVE on Facebook and check out the THRIVE website.
One more thing: if you are interested in getting involved, send an email to info[at]thrivegulu[dot]org.
Little by little, we can change the world for the better. Thank you for your support.
~ Team THRIVE
Dear friends, colleagues and supporters,
I’m thrilled to announce that I’m joining CNET and CBS Interactive as a contributing columnist and commentator!
Ever since my departure from Mashable, I’ve posted my personal take on the big technology news of the day on BenParr.com. The response to my work has been overwhelming, and traffic to this blog has skyrocketed. Thank you all for reading, commenting and sharing.
But now I have a chance to make a much bigger impact with my writing. Starting this week, my commentary on technology, social media and startups will appear on CNET several times per week. I will not be doing any straight reporting — CNET has a talented team that already does an amazing job at that. Instead, I will be doing what I’ve been doing here on BenParr.com: breaking down the big issues and players in tech and explaining what it actually means for both the tech industry and society as a whole.
To do that, I will be writing a combination of thought pieces, analysis stories, response pieces and the occasional long-form column. My CNET column is called The Social Analyst, just like my column on Mashable. It’s going to have more bite than my old column, though. I intend to keep tech’s biggest names honest.
I decided to join forces with CNET/CBSi because CBS Interactive CEO Jim Lanzone and CNET General Manager Mark Larkin have an ambitious vision for the future.
CNET is huge: it is one of the 100 most visited websites in the world, but Mark and Jim are not content with resting on their laurels. I believe in their vision and their leadership, and I am thrilled to be working with them.
CNET isn’t my only gig, though. For the last few months, I’ve also been working behind-the-scenes on a startup, which we can’t wait to talk more about! My co-founder and I have a clear vision, as well as a duty to our investors, and we will move heaven and earth (and forgo sleep) to make sure our company succeeds.
My new role at CNET and CBSi is the best of both worlds. I get to reach millions of people with my thoughts on technology, but still retain the flexibility to be an entrepreneur, build amazing products and change the world.
Don’t take your eyes off of CNET. Big things are happening over there, and you won’t want to miss all the action. 2012 is going to be an amazing year.
I’m heading to Paris next month for LeWeb 2011, Europe’s largest and most prominent technology conference. And I’m happy to announce that I will be speaking on stage this year.
Founders Loic and Geraldine Le Meur have been so gracious and supportive to me over the years — I couldn’t say no to the offer. I’m thrilled to be making my second consecutive trip to Paris. The conference takes place on December 7, 8 and 9.
If you want to meet up with me, you can hit me up at ben[at]benparr[dot]com. And as always, if you’re interested in having me speak, you can hit up my Speakergram page.
I’m looking forward to some amazing adventures in Paris.
Dear friends, family, colleagues and supporters,
Friday, November 18, was my last day at Mashable. I want to thank the Mashable team for 3+ amazing years. They truly have been the best years of my life.
I also want to thank everybody who has been part of my journey. Your help and kindness have been constant sources of strength. I don’t know what I would have done without you.
During my time at Mashable, I wrote 2,446 articles, explored the technology world through my column and interviewed everyone from Ashton Kutcher to Mark Zuckerberg.
But most of all, I learned so much from the thousands of entrepreneurs that I have met. I will not forget their struggles, their triumphs and their ideas. I wish I could have written more of their stories. It was a true honor.
As for what’s next: I am considering several opportunities right now and will definitely keep you all posted as to my future plans. I want to leverage the national platform that I have built and use it to help, empower and reach as many people as I can. I’m exploring options in the media world, the entertainment world, the startup world, the venture capital world and elsewhere. But as always, I’m open to suggestions.
I do intend to continue writing and commentating about the technology and entrepreneurial world, though. Therefore, I will continue my Social Analyst column on BenParr.com for now.
I remain an advisor to NerdsUnite Productions, Tracks.by, Code Academy, Women 2.0 and a few other startups. And I am always interested in working with other brilliant entrepreneurs with ambitious business ideas.
As I’ve told many people, the driving philosophy in my life is this: I have the ability and thus the responsibility to change the world for the better. I want to find a way to empower every person on the planet, so they can pursue their dreams. Today begins the next stage of my journey to fulfill that purpose.
If you want to chat, I can be reached at ben[at]benparr[dot]com. My Gchat is also ben[at]benparr[dot]com, and you can find me on Skype as ben_parr. And of course, I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.
Thank you all. I know we will have the opportunity to work together to make a dent in the universe.
Image courtesy of Flickr, Altus
I know a gal named Jen Friel. She’s dynamic, energetic and one of the happiest and most spontaneous people I know. She gave up having a home for a year, and she went on 103 OkCupid dates in nine months to study the science of attraction. And she blogged about every single one of her dates.
(You can read about them, if you’re brave enough.)
You see, Jen has a site called Talk Nerdy to Me, Lover (TNTML). It may not look like much (we’re in the process of a redesign), but the site has amassed a dedicated audience of young girls, social media nerds and curious onlookers. It has a slew of contributors talking about the intersection of life, sex, relationships and technology. And it has Jen, one of the most compelling people I have ever met.
For more than a year, she’s been able to live off the site and its sponsors, but now she wants to take it to the next level — to turn it into a brand that speaks honestly about the intersection of sex, technology and relationships. And a lot is happening to get that done.
I’m thrilled to announce that I am joining NerdsUnite Productions (the owner of Talk Nerdy to Me Lover) as a Senior Advisor. I’m not leaving Mashable — I’m as committed as ever to the cause — but I will also be immersing myself in the world of production as we work to to turn TNTML into a business and a bigger brand.
Jen and I (along with an incredibly brilliant and passionate team) are not only working on expanding the site, but on several related projects in television, media and more. I’m hoping that we’ll have more to announce early next year, but you can check out Jen’s announcement if you want some more info.
Technology has affected how we think of dating, sex, relationships and life, and that something that TNTML explores with unprecedented amounts of honesty and insight. I believe it opens up a huge opportunity. And most of all, I believe in Jen, a woman who is constantly underestimated but always gets it done.
We’re looking to build relationships with sponsors for Talk Nerdy to Me Lover, so if you’re interested (check out the video above for more), email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you’re interested learning more about NerdsUnite Productions or becoming a contributor, reach out to us. We’re listening.
I can’t believe it’s been three years since I wrote my first article for Mashable.
That article, Are Social Media Jobs Here to Stay?, was published on August 4, 2008.
Back then, I was a product manager, working on Facebook apps and working with my entrepreneurial mentor to grow Spine-health, a web health company. I was only a few months out of Northwestern, and I was living in Chicago, not Silicon Valley.
Oh, and there was no Google+, Twitter wasn’t even close to mainstream, Groupon hadn’t even launched, Android phones didn’t exist and George W. Bush was still President.
My, how things change.
I just want to take a moment to thank everybody who has helped me along this journey. Thank you especially to Pete Cashmore, Sharon Feder and Adam Ostrow for giving me the creative outlet that has been Mashable, to Jennifer Van Grove, who has been my long-time coworker and friend, to my entrepreneurial mentors Troy Henikoff and Mark Achler for guiding and advising me for so long, to my dear friends for keeping me smiling, to the fans of my work that have supported me these past three years, and to my family, who doesn’t always quite know what I do but love me anyway for it.
There are a few others that have a special place in my heart; you know who you are.
So what will the next three years bring? I don’t even know, so you’re just going to have to follow me to find out.
I hope it will be an epic journey.
Above: My very first interview after joining Mashable. The photo, taken at the New Media Expo, includes Walt Ribeiro, Gary Vaynerchuk and Justine Ezaraik (aka iJustine).
Moving across the country and Mashable have killed my blogging on BenParr.com, but still thousands of people are reading my posts. So, with my change of location, I thought I’d throw in a change of design.
So welcome to the new BenParr.com, the beginnings of a more social, more interactive BenParr.com. The old design has been thrown out the window for this one.
Some of the new updates:
A completely new design: Thanks to a combination of my work and One Theme, I have a a new design. I have a new logo, new color scheme and a lot more space for widgets.
Faster website: This should deal with any load speed bugs of the past.
Navigation changes: You’ll notice that there is a new menu line – this is a quick nav to the topics I cover the most. On top of this, the menu is now on the right hand side, so that content is king. I also have two sidebars for more useful content.
Some of the things you can expect on this new website:
Integration with my Mashable Articles: There will be a cool widget with my most recent articles so that you can always see what I’m writing.
Integration with Tech&Beer and Engage Analytics: My two new projects are my tech show, Tech&Beer (more announcements soon, and my consulting firm Engage Analytics – updates from each will be pushed to BenParr.com
Social media streams: Since I can’t write as much (I will still write), I will help compensate by connecting to my social stream – my Google Reader shared items, my Twitter, my Facebook stream, and more will appear on the blog so you’re in the know about the best social media and entrepreneurship information.
What still has to be done:
Fixing bugs: The comments don’t appear in titles and there may be some IE6 issues.
Design tweaks: A slightly bigger font here, a slight color change there – nothing too revolutionary.
Old article formats: Some of the older articles didn’t take perfectly to the new design. I will deal with them as necessary.
Watch out for more changes and updates. In the meantime, please give me some feedback on what I should do next.