Rob Williger

@williger

I am a marketing strategist with a focus on copywriting and web design. I am the co-founder and CEO of Cited, Inc. I write on a wide range of topics including: marketing, persuasion, current affairs, technology, cybersecurity, and privacy. U.S. Army Veteran

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Special Pictures of the Mind

The task of the totalitarian propagandist is to build special pictures in the minds of the citizenry so that finally they will no longer see and hear with their own eyes and ears but will look at the world through the fog of official catchwords and will develop the automatic responses appropriate to totalitarian mythology.
- A.M. Merloo, The Rape of the Mind
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This is what many are trying to do with words like "deep state" and "dossier"

Politicians and other propagandists do this with phrases such as deep state and hijacking terms such as collusion or transcript. The goal is to make it easier for people to not use their brain and just follow along with whatever they are told.

Once the mind is conditioned, like those that get all of their news from certain sources, it becomes harder for people to think for themselves.

In order to maintain a free country it is important that each person forms their own thoughts and makes their own decisions.

Let Us March

Do you remember that in classical times when Cicero had finished speaking, the people said, "How well he spoke" but when Demosthenes had finished speaking, they said, "Let us march."
-Adlai Stevenson

If you spend enough time online you will see that people are more concerned about being told how well they tweet. It is less about getting others to take action and actually solve problems than it is about having the most likes or retweets.

If your message stops at likes then has it really served a purpose? You need to get others to actually take action.

Four Ways to Show Actual Appreciation to Veterans

Veteran's Day is a wonderful way to thank veterans and it is great to see appreciation for the sacrifices made. But there are a lot of things that happen throughout the year that actually disrespect the sacrifice made.

If you want to show your thanks and appreciation here are some things to do.

Don't speak for Veterans. 

We see people who have never served talking about what disrespects veterans. No veteran is in a place to speak for all others and if someone hasn't served they are in no place to determine what is offensive.

We see this when people abuse photos of wounded or fallen soldiers to spread their political message. Or talk about how someone exercising their freedom of speech or expression is offensive to veterans.

If you haven't served, don't try to speak for veterans.

Stop Thinking All Veterans are the Same

As America is a diverse country so are the people that serve and have served in the Armed Forces. There are Christians, Jews, Muslims, Atheists, Wiccans, and more. There are immigrants and there are people who can trace their ancestry back to the Pilgrims.

There are Democrats, Republicans, Independents and people who don't even care about politics.

As there is no one American, there is no one Veteran.

Don't Judge Someone's Service Based on Their Politics

Either you respect people who served or you don't. If you are critical of their service because you disagree with their politics you show disrespect for all veterans.

Military service is one component of a person and doesn't define everything about them. 

Don't Use Veterans Only When Convenient

Politicians on both sides love to use Veterans whenever it is convenient for them but like to forget about them when it comes to benefits.

Be honest about it.

So, there are some ways you can actually show appreciation to Veterans.

Logic and Crowds

The laws of logic have no action on crowds.
-Gustav Le Bon
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Just look at the rallies that take place on a regular basis and you see that there is no logic being used. Those gathered just follow along with whatever is being said even when it makes no sense. Think like an individual and don't get dragged into the crowd.

Please Just Don't Do It

Video and audio should not autoplay on your site. While I am not one for absolutes but along with never using Comic Sans, I would say autoplay does not have a place in a website. People may visit your site in a situation where they need to be discreet. Or maybe they have a sleeping child and are finally sitting down to look some things up and they get greeted by a loud sound.

Your website content should be able to stand on its own without sound or video, remember that people will be visiting your site who may not be able to hear or see and you need to account for this.

Please just don't use autoplay.

Different Worlds

They live, we are likely to say, in different worlds . More accurately, they live in the same world, but they think and feel in different ones.
-Walter Lippman

This was true when it was written and even more so today. We see many people who are looking at the same issues in the world but the perspective is totally different.

The Words We Use

He who dictates and formulates the words and phrases we use, he who is master of the press and radio, is master of the mind.

  • A.M. Merloo, The Rape of the Mind

We have allowed words such as Deep State, collusion, and more enter our vocabularies and they are taking on their own existence.

We now see it with Quid Pro Quo and people being stuck on the term as opposed to the actual crimes.

If we let someone, in particular and authoritarian define terms we are giving them power.

Don't Trust Encryption Backdoors

A common theme that is coming up among government officials and law enforcement is the idea of encryption backdoors to allow law enforcement to access your data. These are extremely dangerous and citizens should do all they can to prevent government from requiring these.

Yes, there will be information that the government may not be able to access in an investigation, on the other hand there is no way to guarantee that any backdoor will not be abused. In addition, due to how encryption works any form of government backdoor could be exploited by hackers. To allow the government to be able to do what they want will weaken the security of the data.

For these reasons, it is best to use open source encryption tools that have been independently verified by security professionals. When you rely on a corporation such as Facebook for the encryption you do not know what weaknesses there may be.

Make sure to reach out to your elected officials and let them know to protect our rights to encryption.

A Simple Private Note App

If you are looking for a simple way to store some private notes check out Protected Text. It is a web-based app that is free and secure. The great thing about it is there is no registration so nothing can be linked to you.

It is a relatively simple application so more for some quick notes and thoughts and not a full note taking tool but very useful and they have no way to read your notes or even know what belongs to you.

What Action Do You Want Them To Take?

You know you need to think about the prospect when creating a website or sales copy and what is important to them but are you really thinking about the action you need them to take?

Before you start any new project the first thing you must define is the goal you need to achieve. The finest prose or most advanced website will do nothing if it isn't driving the reader to action.

So before you start any project, define what success is to you.

Does It Make Sense?

That is a simple question you can ask yourself when you come across any news story these days or when you hear someone's political arguments. Instead of jumping to reaction take a moment and think for yourself.

Yes, it is easier to have others do the thinking for us, but there is a lot to be gained by taking a few moments and really looking at the source and applying logic to the idea.

While you may not be first to share something at least what you share will be accurate.

Glad I Stopped Using My FitBit

A few months ago I stopped wearing my FitBit as it was causing wrist pain. With the news that Google is buying the company I am relieved that I am no longer sharing the data.

Google isn't buying the company for technology, staff, or other reasons they are buying it for the data. Another example of how we are paying companies for the privilege to be their product.

While there are a lot of great tools and conveniences out there it is important to consider the privacy tradeoff in deciding to use them.

Digital Housekeeping

Just like we should go through our house and clean things up and get rid of things we don't use, it is important to do this for our digital lives as well. Most of use have opened numerous accounts on websites that we never use but they still hold our data, go ahead and delete those.

Do a reset on your phone and computer and then only reinstall the apps that you actually are using. Even though it doesn't take up physical space it is important to also get rid of our digital garbage.

What Your Email Says About You

The email you use sends a message about you. If all you are doing is personal correspondence between friends then you probably don't have much to worry about.

But, if you are running a business you want to make sure that your email communicates the right message. By using a Gmail, Yahoo, or similar type of address you are reducing the credibility of your business.

In addition, you are likely paying to print that email address on business cards and brochures. You are spending money to advertise another brands name and their is the risk that the address can change or the policies of the company can change.

If you are running a business then it is important that you have an email address that matches the business name.

Modern Life

The mechanization of modern life has already influenced man to become more passive and to adjust himself to ready-made conformity
-A.M. Merloo
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To think that those words were written in 1953, this is a situation that has only gotten worse. While technology has enabled more places to achieve democracy and other freedoms it has also been weaponized against the same.

We simply click away, retweet, and post without really thinking about what message we are sharing. This happens on all sides of the political spectrum. People are more concerned about being first than being right.

While in some ways technology has enabled people to be unique in other ways it has driven us to more conformity. We need to take control of these tools and not let them control us.

We Need to Think Straight

It is often disturbing to see how even intelligent people do not have straight thinking minds of their own. The pattern of the mind, whether toward conformity and compliance or otherwise, is conditioned rather early in life.
-A.M. Merloo, The Rape of the Mind

No matter what side of the issues one is on politically it should be a matter of concern the lack of emphasis these days on people actually thinking for themselves.

We should not simply follow pundits or supposed experts but learn the facts for ourselves and make our own determinations.

We may be taught conformity from an early age, it is critical we break out of this cycle.

Sorry Twitter and Facebook You Are Already Judging the Value of Content

Social media platforms are stating they don't want to be in a position to arbitrate on speech and in theory that seems like the right move, but they are already blatantly doing so with their verification system, so it is time for them to open verification to anyone who is willing to prove their identity.

One of the mysteries of Twitter, Facebook, and others is what qualifies one to receive their checkmark and have a verified account. All of the platforms claim that verification is not an endorsement and they may believe that but it does create a caste system on the platform therefore they are already judging the value of content put on their platform.

The official story behind verification is that it is for accounts in the public interest. Twitter for a period of time opened verification up to the public and was random about who they approved, not even following their own posted guidelines as far as requirements.

It has been almost two years since Twitter stopped general verifications and they have not provided an update since then. The only obvious reason Twitter in particular doesn't want to solve this issue is because they rely on bots to boost their traffic numbers and this would reduce the amount of bots, which should be a goal of theirs.

This is a question that Congress should be asking the leaders of these platforms when they testify. How is it if they don't want to be in a position to evaluate content can they be in a position to decide who is an account in the public interest.

Either social media platforms should open the verification process to everyone or they should admit that they are evaluating the value of people's opinions.

There Aren't Really 57 Tools You Need to Run Your Business

I follow a lot of blogs, probably too many. One subject that seems to pop up a lot is the X number of items you need to have to run your online business.

Some of these lists are quite extensive such at 57 things your website must have or 31 tools every blogger should use. I have fallen into the trap at times thinking that all these things were needed but it isn't true.

There are probably about five tools you need to run an online business. If you have a website and a way to capture email addresses you have the core of what you need. Yes, there are tools that can help you and make life easier but remember it isn't about the tool but the implementation.

Hypocrisy Isn't an Argument

Can we stop with the hypocrisy arguments?

If you believe that nobody should be censored for their views and you get upset when someone is boycotted for something they say the response when it happens on the other side should be to just ignore it or not do anything.

When you start demanding that things need to be fair then you become a hypocrite.

Hypocrisy is not going to solve any of the issues. If we want to mock safe spaces and say that people need thicker skins maybe you shouldn't get all worked up when someone says fuck.

The issue occurs on both sides but certainly see it more on the right. They claim to support free enterprise but want to regulate any business that they feel isn't fair to them.

If you really think government needs to be out of people's lives then that includes women's health care.

If socialism and subsidies are bad then you should be speaking out against farm subsidies that are paying for someone's temper tantrum.

Let's cut the bullshit and move past this stupidity.

Meta Misinformation

We have entered a time of meta misinformation. Not only are we constantly being exposed to misinformation, whether intentional or accidental, but we now have people giving false information on how to identify what is true or not.

This relates to a previous post we can't outsource thinking. This also is important with how we look at disinformation.

When learning to understand misinformation you need to be willing to put in the time to understand how these messages are spread.

For example, there is a below average cartoonist out there trying to explain things and thousands of people take him seriously. Instead of looking at actual peer reviewed data and making determinations most people are blindly following people who post online.

There are great sources like First Draft News that provide solid information on how you can look to make your own decisions.

We must take ownership of our thinking.