Social Currency

This is from Douglas Rushkoff who is known for his infecting marketing with the idea of viral marketing.

Observe yourself the next time you’re listening to a joke. You may start by listening to the joke for the humor – because you really want the belly laugh at the end. But chances are, a few sentences in, you will find yourself not only listening, but attempting to remember its whole sequence. You’ll do this tentatively at first, until you’ve decided whether or not it’s really a good joke. And if it is, you’ll commit the entire thing to memory – maybe even with a personalized variation, or a mental note to yourself to fix that racist part. This is because the joke is a gift – it’s a form of social currency that you’ll be able to take with you to the next party.

In this election season, we watched the debates in order to be able to talk about them with others. Having something to say about it and being able to connect it to other parts is a major motivation to watch. The fact the past year has been such a political mess, the opportunity to pick up on the next disaster was difficult to resist. Things went viral because it gave people something exciting to report to others.

Television in the 90s was like this. Everyone watched the same shows in order to be able to gather in groups to discuss. I rented and/or bought video games in part so I could talk about the secret areas or tricks I had found. Friends would talk about the bands they discovered.

Popular culture was viral well before the internet. We have just made it easier by being able share in real time rather than by gathering. I often watch sports events BECAUSE of being able to share the experience with others. Friends posting about a crazy game unknowingly get me to tune into it as well. Shows where everyone is talking about it probably get a good portion of their viewers because of others talking about it.

The Fear Of Missing Out is a powerful social motivator. To be relevant, one needs social currency. To get social currency, one needs to acquire chunks of social information (memes) to offer others. Or, maybe my personality depends on having social currency.

Gladwell described “Mavens are people who have a strong compulsion to help other consumers by helping them make informed decisions” in The Tipping Point. I can seen elements of being a Connector (lots and lots of acquaintances from different realms) and Salesmen (inducing others’ behavior). But the Maven is the one I claim and most strongly identify.

Netflix Content Expiring Jan 1st

Yesterday a friend pointed out Netflix is dropping some content on January 1st. This was in relation to the movie of a book we read for a book club earlier this month. So last night, while watching the movie, I noted through the web site all the movies in my list set to expire by the note “Available until <date>” under the thumbnail. They were:

  • Alice in Wonderland (Jan 4th)
  • Battle for Britain
  • Biloxi Blues
  • Stargate Continuum
  • Stargate: The Ark of Truth
  • Conan the Barbarian (2011)

Netflix dropped Stargate SG-1 a while ago, and I am not far enough into the series to warrant watching either of those movies, so that meant just three more movies to watch by the 1st. That seemed doable, so I planned to this weekend watch the other 3.

Only…

The indicator upon which I depended is inaccurate. I use an app on my Bluray player to watch on my television and going through my list to find these, I found more movies are expiring. “Clue” for instance according to the Bluray app expires on the first but lacks such an indication on the web at all. There are another 13 who I was able to identify this way.

So it is more like 16 to watch. Ugh. Guess I will have to prioritize.

UPDATE: I made a spreadsheet with expiration date, title, Netflix’s presumed rating. Then I ordered it by rating descending. I am watching them in that order. Most are under 2, so maybe this will not be so bad?

Inconsistent Experiences

Lately I have been thinking about getting a new TV. An important vacuum I would like to fill is accessing content on the Internet through it. The want is mostly filled by my Wii, but the device is in a physical location that makes playing games inconvenient because of the limited space. So my idea is to move it to another room on the TV there and get another device just for watching content.

One option is a Roku or equivalent. A friend has a Roku I have used, but I found it cludgy to use compared to my Wii. It required frequent pauses and a reset to correctly behave. Overall, I was underwhelmed by the Roku. Another friend insisted these devices were the way to go, so I bought Netgear’s neoTV. It was cheap and reflects that price. More on it later.

The friend with a Roku Bought a TV with Internet apps. My experience with it has been very positive, so until I was talked ought of it, the way I thought I should go. I may be back to thinking that way.

At Mom’s house for Christmas, I played with her Bluray player which also has Internet apps.

The common app between all five devices (Wii, Roku, neoTV, smart TV, Bluray) and even my tablet Is Netflix. Somewhat surprising is the lack of consistency between these. The user interfaces look like using different services.

For the uninitiated, Netflix has a Watch Instantly feature that allows for the playing of movies and television shows over the Internet. The basic functionality is consistent. A queue of the shows I want to watch are presented to me. Suggestion categories are peer to the queue. Hit play to see the show. Pause, fast forward, rewind.

Each has quirks to their navigation. Like the Bluray goes to the queue and getting to suggestions requires up button to a tab and side arrow to find the category. Others are vertical scroll.

Some group all actions for a show in a list. Others have items off to the side or way above where not intuitive.

The neoTV has a neat feature when a show ends, it automatically plays the next after a 20 second delay. That was exciting and something I hope shows up on other devices. The others at least queue up the next episode. Though, when can be variable. On the Wii, neoTV, smart TV, and tablet I can stop around the credits and the next episode shows up ready to play. With the Bluray, that only happens if the show ends.

It surprises me there is not better user experience design so all of these approach behave the same way. Having two and soon three devices that navigate differently will get quickly very annoying.

Spoilers

Ewww? Sports: I bought my first DVR specifically to record the 2006 World Cup games while at work. I was in my first few months and did not feel like I could afford to take off work to catch all the games I desired. For the 2010, I tuned out of Facebook because I knew lots of people posting live about games. Comments by friends on social media during a game is usually better than the announcers. Unless someone I know is actively posting about a game, I tend not to post anything of my own trying to respect others who might be time shifting the game.

Books and Movies: If asked, I tend to spoil books and movies. I tend to be better about holding myself back for movies newly in theaters or on DVD/Bluray. But if something has been out for a long time, then someone has had plenty of time to consume that story. Maybe they eventually will, but I tend not to save up things. Probably because the longer I wait the less likely I ever will. The exceptions for me tend to be the movie version of books where I watch after reading. The difficulty for me is explaining why someone would or would not want to see something with them feeling like it has not been spoiled.

George R. R. Martin killing off the sympathetic characters is a good example. Some people hate it. Some people love it. It feels unfair not to warn people that it happens in each book. Why someone might like the TV series better without saying anything that happens? Ugh.

Scripted Television: Pretty much both issues of sports and movies apply. I am not very sympathetic regarding shows that have been around for a long time. But I try not to spoil things that are live.

So, I guess people should avoid talking about things they want to see or read around me.

Library Netflix Model

I tend to buy books. As Heather pointed out on Flickr, I could save lots of money by checking books out from the library. I don’t for one big reason. I am lazy. Most of my purchases fall within a sweet spot of wanting to read more about something because I heard about it on the radio, saw a television episode on a topic, read something in another book, or talked to someone about it. My memory is poor so I only buy a book if I happen to hit the bookstore prior to forgetting. For most of these that means Amazon. To get a book from a library would be mean remembering to go there AND the book I wanted which is unlikely.

However, books sit on my shelf for sometimes years before I get around to reading them. I also tend to read several at a time which slows my pace on any particular book to about 250 pages a month unless I devote more time to it.

Netflix works similarly for me. I add things to the queue and maybe eventually get around to getting the disk. I’ll watch a disk a week maybe. Netflix’s Watch Instantly is much better for me as I can pick whatever I want off the list and see it then. Even then I might watch half and watch the rest later. I’m watching 3x more with the Watch Instantly model than I did off the DVD model.

While I would like an eBook Reader, I don’t find the purchase model compelling.  Take the Netflix concepts of:

  • A watch instantly queue (more a list of everything I am interested in watching)
  • When I am ready to read it downloads to my device.
  • When I am finished, I no longer have access.
  • Do not limit me to one out at a time.
  • A monthly charge for the privilege of all of the above.

With that kind of model, I would be willing to buy a Kindle, Nook, Kobo, or whatever for anytime access to an enormous library of books. They could even charge me $10-15 depending on how many I can have out a time.

TV Schedules

It seems to me television programmers between college and professional football there would be at least 1,000 games per year which would provide the necessary data points for understanding how long these games typically last. Yet, consistently the games which start on time still run about an hour or more longer than the 3 hour time slots allocated. The programmers understand this enough to schedule the games four hours apart and schedule a post-game review in this period just in case it ends early. Just include that as part of the original “episode” since you include the same announcers in the pre-game.

The TV schedule should make it convenient to know what program is on when. Inaccuracy of the data leads to distrust. (Got a weird deja vu moment writing that.)

Mostly though this is about knowing what to schedule on my DVR. Soccer time slots generally are set for 2 or 2.5 hours so I typically extend them to 3 hours. A half hour or hour are available options. The only time I’ve been burned by this is an LA Galaxy game where there was a couple power outages. (American) Football consistently burns me.

Writer’s Block: Infamous

January 28, 1986

At school, a teacher knocked on the door. Our teacher went to find out what was wrong. We were told to go into another room and sit on the floor. About half the kids on the hall were packed into one of the two rooms with a TV. The talking heads were in the middle of reviewing what had happened and the latest updates.

Me and another kid noticed the flame on the Solid Rocket Booster before the broadcasters. We wanted to know what it meant and why did it get bigger?

Before this event, I doodled army stuff… planes, tanks, soldiers, explosions, tracers. After this event, I doodled space shuttles, launching facilities, landers, alien worlds, and space stations. I had a defined future… to build space vehicles.