®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 business.
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. ®TMark 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 sleep soundly.
®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 be ruthless.
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.
Public 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 be heard.
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.