Advertising is Flirtation


Date Thursday February 2nd 2006
Time 4:00-5:00pm
Venue George E. Pake Auditorium

PARC Forum

The success of advertising-funded Google and expectations of great turmoil in the media business make me curious about how advertising really works. There doesn’t seem to be much economic theory. Guided by Herbert Simon’s remark that “We suffer from a plenty of information and a deficit of attention,” some have proposed models in which information exchange is treated as a value transaction. I believe this is wrong and that advertising should be analyzed as a flirtation device like the peacock’s tail. Ways of substantiating this belief, notably a study of the magazine industry are considered.


Dr. James H. Morris is a Professor of Computer Science and Dean of the Carnegie Mellon's West Coast campus. He is a native of Pittsburgh and received a Bachelor's degree from Carnegie Mellon, an MS in Management from MIT and Ph.D. in Computer Science from MIT. He taught at the University of California at Berkeley where he developed some important underlying principles of programming languages: inter-module protection and lazy evaluation. He was a co-discoverer of the Knuth-Morris-Pratt string-searching algorithm. For ten years he worked at Xerox PARC where he was part of the team that developed the Alto System. He also directed the Cedar programming environment project. From 1983 to 1988 he directed the Information Technology Center at CMU, a joint project with IBM which developed a prototype university computing system, Andrew. He has been the principal investigator on NSF projects aimed at computer-mediated communication. He was a founder of the MAYA Design Group, a consulting firm specializing in interactive product design.

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