(This talk is for use with the Personal Roving Presence, which bears a face configured for maximum expressivity by the user. Peppered throughout the text below are examples of the PRoP face designed and used by RTMark for its presentations in this cutting-edge medium.)
®TMark is very grateful to be sponsored by the Experimental
Interaction Unit, which produces Personal Roving Presences (PRoPs) for commerce
and non-commerce, and we would like to speak at length about ®TMark's profitable
use of this exciting new technology. But first let us introduce ®TMark to those
who may not know what we do.
ESSENTIAL IDEA OF ®TMark
®TMark is simply a corporation--a corporation
that sponsors the sabotage of corporate products.
Like any corporation, our bottom line is profit--in our case,
not financial profit, but cultural.
We want to improve not our pocketbooks,
but culture, society, life.
Now the very best thing we can think of
to improve culture and society is to highlight
its biggest problem: the excessive influence
that corporations have on politics, law, and the way all of us conduct our day-to-day
To accomplish this bottom-line goal, ®TMark
uses many techniques borrowed from the corporate world,
and is constantly on the alert for new technologies
that can help us to better reap cultural profit.
FINANCIAL TECHNOLOGIES USED
First and foremost among corporate technologies that ®TMark has borrowed is the financial technology of an open stock market.
sabotage projects, like corporate shares,
can be funded by anyone, risk-free. The projects
themselves are certainly not risk-free; like corporate actions, ®TMark projects
sometimes have unprofitable, damaging or even criminal effects. But investors
in ®TMark, like investors in the stock market, risk nothing at all, physically
or legally: while their money acts, they can
®TMark, like other U.S. corporations, accomplishes this protection by deploying
the many advantages of its corporate personhood status. Especially useful, too,
is the universal corporate principle of freedom from responsibility, otherwise
known as "limited liability." When GM was fined $5000 for destroying public
transportation in Los Angeles, GM's "limited liability" assured that
neither its managers nor its investors would feel the brunt of the fine. ®TMark,
too, imparts "limited liability" to investors and members, who are thus freed
from the consequences of their actions, or those of their money.
Another financial technology that has proven quite useful
to ®TMark is the mutual fund. It serves the same purpose to ®TMark as the financial
mutual fund does to corporations--it allows an even greater distance between
investment and consequences. Investors in mutual funds seldom know exactly where
their money has gone--and so can avoid the potentially disquieting experience
of reading headlines about companies they are supporting.
The ®TMark mutual funds, like their financial counterparts, are keyed by area
of popular interest, and are headed by "celebrity fund managers" who have again
and again proven their knack for profit--in ®TMark's case, cultural. Also, these
managers give a reassuring human face to the cold machinery of the market,
encouraging even those with a "soft spot" to let their money
PUBLIC RELATIONS TECHNOLOGIES USED
So much for the financial technologies ®TMark has borrowed from the corporate world
for the furtherance of its aims. We have borrowed other corporate technologies as well, and
these can mostly be classified under the rubric of Public Relations.
Relations is a century-old branch of corporate science; its mission, to convince
the public of what should be obvious. It acquired its modern form about 60 years
ago, and has been steadily refined over the years. Among the most powerful P.R. technologies,
and the ones that ®TMark has used the most, are
the press release and the ad-hoc TV news story, or Video News Release.
The great number and tight bottom-line constraints
of the corporate-owned broadcast and print media in the U.S., as well as their
uniformity and strict format and content requirements, assures that strapped station managers and editors
can fill out impossible daily requirements with pre-packaged news sent in by
large corporations. It is thus that a good
50% of the TV and print "news" is prepared in response to specific events, to
promote specific products or concepts, by a wide variety of corporate interests--like
Nestle, Monsanto... ®TMark.
The press release and ad-hoc news story, like more overt advertisements, are
completely controllable: even with just a few hours of advance notice, a well-trained
corporate team can prepare an ad-hoc TV news story and distribute it via satellite
to hundreds of identical, news-starved TV stations, to address any situation
with well-designed messages. Like websites--another
technique which ®TMark has been keen to adopt--ad-hoc TV news can also provide
a wonderful illusion of informative spontaneity while being completely under
the long-term control of corporate public relations experts.
AN EXCITING FRONTIER IN PUBLIC RELATIONS TECHNOLOGY
There are, however, some demands that cannot be satisfied by an ad-hoc TV news
story or press release, nor by a website. Sometimes there must be human interaction
with an actual audience, a micro-targeting with specific aims in mind; a corporate
officer or professional spokesperson must visit a location and promote, justify,
or convince. In such cases, control of the sort allowed by other public relations
technologies is simply not possible. A team may prepare a spokesperson, for
example, but when the time comes, it is entirely up to him or her how well--or
how poorly--the story is told.
Spokespersons are traditionally culled, therefore,
from the ranks of accomplished actors; they have usually studied for decades
to project required emotions. But such education is increasingly rare in these
bottom-line times, so cheaper solutions have taken their place. These programs,
involving carefully monitored work under special conditions, cut the development time for convincing corporate acting
from decades to months.
Quick solutions to problems of presence and honesty are being applied not only
to professional spokespersons by corporate management, but by corporate management to themselves.
Everyday businessmen increasingly seek shortcuts to the personal discipline
required to communicate only the ideas and emotions they want to. This sort
of control is offered by a range of what have been dismissively called "business
cults"--EST, in the U.S., and in Japan, Sokka Gakkai, also known for chanting for
goods. These organizations and others teach businessmen how to control their
presence in order to more profitably manipulate the environment.
They have achieved wide popularity and have many successes:
in Japan, for example, it is impossible to have a corporate career without being
a member of Sokka Gakkai, despite its having been banned by the mainstream Buddhist organizations.
But for businessmen as for professional spokespersons, these quicker solutions
have their problems. For spokespersons, quicker training programs means less
depth of understanding, less depth means less steadiness in action, and less
steadiness means slop, missing the target, the corporate message lost or even
subverted. As for the so-called "business cults," they have a very spotty track
record, and do not actually work very well. In a word, it is very difficult
to control one's face and presence, and except in the most extraordinary cases,
lies and hypocrisy are often apparent upon simple observation, even where fact-finding
missions must fail. And this is where the Experimental Interaction Unit's Personal Roving Presence comes in.
ADVANTAGES OF THE PERSONAL ROVING PRESENCE
1. The EIU PRoP is controllable.
The EIU PRoP, a remotely operated, interactive robot with a fully controllable face, has many, many advantages
for corporate speaking. Most importantly, it
cuts out a great deal of the uncertainty that has always accompanied corporate
interactions by mere human proxy. The EIU PRoP enables mission-critical interaction
to occur under the full control of a Public Relations team, sometimes miles
away, and enables even ordinary businessmen to exhibit the full self-discipline
that usually comes only with years and years of good training.
As improvements are made to the EIU PRoP and its visual technologies, its control-critical
applications will broaden. At present it is useful for speaking with individuals
and small audiences; with a broader range of emotions and more realistic appearance,
it will be possible to insert the EIU PRoP's face seamlessly into TV interviews,
so that viewers will not even be aware that the subject of the interview is
not real. This will permit tomorrow's corporations to furnish tailor-made, visually
effective experts to the broadcast network news, for inclusion in any interview
setting, and with considerably less overhead and issue-guessing than with the
ad-hoc news story that is currently the industry standard.
2. The EIU PRoP is a trade good.
Besides the enormous control it affords any skilled Public Relations team,
and its ability to emotionally navigate almost any interactive situation with
a minimum of visual slippage, the EIU PRoP also has the advantage of being able,
as a piece of merchandise, to travel the world in a much less restricted fashion
than any human representative.
Put in a box and shipped abroad or over the border, the EIU PRoP, in its status
of trade good rather than person, has much better rights and access than any
human spokesperson. Like the "cybrasero" robots that permit Mexican
workers to pick oranges without crossing the border, the EIU PRoP allows ®TMark's
Mexican affiliates to perform profitable public relations in the U.S. Because under free trade
agreements like NAFTA and GATT, goods can travel almost unhindered by national
borders, many of ®TMark's foreign partners are now for the first time welcome
at ®TMark's side.
®TMark, likewise, is now able to speak in many areas of
the world that have chosen to protect themselves from American human influence,
but are forced by free trade agreements to open their borders to the free flow
of physical goods. By temporarily selling the EIU PRoP to the intended recipient,
and offering a full refund upon return, ®TMark is able to piggyback on liberal
free trade agreements to make itself known throughout the developing world;
anywhere that terminator seeds or infant formula can be sold, there can ®TMark
3. The EIU PRoP is still the future.
Finally, one of the great advantages of using the EIU PRoP is intangible: it
indicates and symbolizes one's identification with what is most modern. The
EIU PRoP is the Year-2000 fulfillment of those dreams of the '30s, '40s, '50s,
'60s, and '70s, of robots creating leisure time by reducing the workload for
everyone. Robots have already created unprecedented leisure in factories, enabling
goods to be created more cheaply, and in much greater quantity. If the robot can
eliminate steps from manufacturing processes, with the benefits accruing to
investors, why not eliminate steps from human interaction as well? The EIU PRoP
creates leisure in the Public Relations industry of which ®TMark is a proud part, and the benefits accrue to
all our investors.