The Emdros Text Database Engine as a Platform for Persuasive Computing

The Emdros Text Database Engine as a Platform for Persuasive Computing

Ulrik Sandborg-Petersen (Department of Communication and Psychology, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark)
DOI: 10.4018/ijcssa.2013070106


This paper describes the nature and scope of Emdros, a text database engine for annotated text. Three case-studies of persuasive learning systems using Emdros as an important architectural component are described, and their status as to participation in the three legs of BJ Fogg's Functional Triad of Persuasive Design is assessed. Various properties of Emdros are discussed, both with respect to competing systems, and with respect to the three case studies. It is argued that these properties together enable Emdros to form part of the foundation for a large class of systems whose primary function involves text being stored in or retrieved from a database.
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The Functional Triad Of Persuasive Design

Any field of research sooner or later develops a theoretical apparatus by which to describe the phenomena which are the objects of study under scrutiny by that field. In the field of persuasive design, the work of B.J. Fogg has been seminal in developing some of the core theoretical notions of the field. In Fogg (2003), the author develops much of the theoretical apparatus still being used today. In particular, Chapters 3, 4, and 5 explains that Persuasive Design encompasses three ways in which a computer system can be persuasive. These can be embodied in Fogg's “Functional Triad”, also described in Fogg (1998). There are, thus, three theoretical notions under which we can group some of the functions performed by computers when they are used to change what we think and/or do:

  • 1.

    First, the label “Persuasive Tool” applies when the computer “does” something for the user.

  • 2.

    Second, the label “Persuasive Media” applies when the computer is used as a medium through which the user is encouraged to consume, for example, information.

  • 3.

    Third, the label “Persuasive Social Actor” applies when the computer either facilitates and mediates social interaction between humans, or interacts socially with humans by itself.

Beaudouin-Lafon (2004) discusses three similar concepts in his quest for a theory of human- computer interaction (HCI), namely “computer-as-tool”, “computer-as-partner”, and “computer-as-medium”. The two sets of theoretical notions are almost identical, with “computer- as-tool” being roughly equivalent to Fogg’s “Persuasive Tool” role. However, Fogg's notion of “Persuasive Social Actor” seems to blend ideas from Beaudouin-Lafon's “computer-as-medium” (in which the computer facilitates human communication and interaction), and his “computer-as- partner” (in which it is the computer that interacts with the human in a social way). Thus, while the two sets of notions cover similar areas of theoretical ground, that ground is segmented differently in the two theories.


Emdros: Nature And Scope

We start with a general discussion of databases, database models, data models, and how they relate to each other. We do so in order to better motivate and introduce the Emdros text database engine which the author has implemented.

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