This article describes how Trump’s campaign targeted voters with online ads tailored to their personality types, their fears, and their Facebook likes, the way Amazon and other online marketers infest your browser with remarkably accurate ads for things you may once have dreamed of wanting. It describes a company called Cambridge Analytica (check them out on the web at cambridgeanalytica.org) that boasts that it can tell everything about you from some relatively shallow and easily performed data mining.
Both the inexpressibly creepy Nigel Farage (the Brexit Boy) and Trump’s team used their services, and I wonder if Marine Le Pen and the German Nazis AFD are using them too. The psychometric scientist who developed the technique without fully understanding how it might be used in politics may be another Victor Frankenstein.
Hillary’s campaign, according to George Lakoff, actually amplified the impact of Trump’s deliberately provocative statements by quoting him verbatim in her ads, and assuming everyone rational would understand how dreadful they were, while in fact they sounded good to those predisposed to political incorrectness.
The article on Cambridge Analytica suggests that the Democrats are one technology behind in the marketing and advertising game, and that we had better catch up quickly. Orwell’s 1984 stubbornly retains its relevance in an age of propaganda more sophisticated than Mao and Stalin ever dreamed of.
Of course, others have suggested that this is all hype, and certainly good for Cambridge Analytica’s business:
I wonder which analysis is closer to the facts (not the alternative facts)?
Last night I watched Benedict Cumberbatch’s turn as Richard III in the BBC’s magnificent The Hollow Crown, and marveled at Shakespeare’s understanding of the shrewdness and duplicity of a brilliant PR man hell-bent on power. Trump lacks Richard’s brilliance and self-knowledge, not to mention his command of language, but he knows about hypocrisy, staged performances for the credulous yokels, and marketing. The good news is, he comes to a very bad end.