Thursday, May 03, 2012

This is my new spam

This morning I asked aloud, is there a equivalent of This is my jam for short written works. I followed this thought with another:

I've had a couple requests for clarification. So I've given myself 40 minutes to do that here. (We're at 37:46 at this point)

I'm fond of This is my jam because it's simple and it works. Once a week you pick an ear-worm that's been consuming you and if your friends join, once a week you have a cool playlist of songs. It's an instant mix-tape.

It works well, I think, because it asks only a small commitment of time. One song per week and it's a song that you can control.

Contrast this experience with rdio - an online music subscription service that offers no ability to keep one's listening habits private. Only those who are confident in their musical tastes (or like me, and are mostly indifferent to what others think about the music I enjoy) will sign up to rdio.

Choosing one's song is a fun exercise for this is my jam. Sure, one could get caught up on what impression one will make by broadcasting their choice, but that's makes the exercise an interesting one.

Which is why I was thinking about the differences between picking out one's weekly jam, and now ubiquitous MUST READs from our friends and contacts. I no longer follow posts and messages that demand that they are to be read this way. And I started to wonder, why was this.

So I started to inventory my own feelings just before I hit the submit / share button...

There's a temptation to prescribe reading as a means to convince others of a particular belief one holds. If I can only get you to read about the melting icecaps, maybe you will finally be convinced to act against global climate change.

There are the posts that you can sometimes feel obliged to pass on because you must a bad person if you let crimes against humanity go unrecognized (e.g. you MUST READ this about child soldiers in the Congo!!!).

[... this is a fun exercise and I want to finish this list sometime....]

Anyways, my point is that we want to control what we share because it's so closely linked to how we want other people to see who we are. Maybe you had friends, like mine, who didn't realize that their Washington Post Facebook app was telling the world they were reading about a particular celebrity's diet and other more tawdry pieces. No one wants the automatic sharing of our online reading (I guess, other than this guy).

Reading has always had an aspirational aspect to it. People buy books that they mean to read and never do. In the meantime, the books look very impressive on their bookshelves. My own to-read list is very impressive.. but I'm actually reading Bringing Up Bebe at the moment (and hating myself for it, thank you very much).

This is all related to the time between choice and delivery. Netflix acquired much press for its movie suggestion algorithm, but in the end, never ended up using it. Why? Because picking DVDs to watch in the future doesn't apply at all when we decide what we are going to watch immediately through streaming.

This is all related to the larger issues of how news agencies are to bring us "broccoli news' - news that we probably should read (like the details of a bank bailout from 5 years ago) but we won't because they know from click-through stats that we are reading what gifted toddlers eat for breakfast instead.

(1:00 left! crap!)

This is all related to the 'read later' aspects of Readability and Instapaaper. 

This is all related to the floating "buy now" button that is encased with every Kindle.

This is all related to why Amazon sells "single-serving" books.

(I'm in overtime)

So how do we share the things that really matter? What's a This is my Jams for articles? Or videos? Or books?

I think the answer is a performance, not a technology.

I'm going to do an exercise. I'm going to pick one item each workday. I'll give myself some time. I'm going to give myself a constraint.

If I follow through with this, I'll make it public.

Until then, this 40 minute performance piece is my spam.

1 comment:

nichtmeinnamen said...

I like the comment where you mentioned "broccoli news" - and I'm sure I'm guilty of spending far more time on /r/funny or pics than I am on /r/politics. I'm sure I go on about G+ far too often, but one of the reasons that I like it is that it has become the place where I eat my veggies. My friends and the people I follow there post almost exclusively about issues of greater substance than what happens on FB for example.

I'm not sure why this happened, and you're right it has nothing to do with the technology itself that is more conducive to smart chatter rather than mundane chatter. It's like the community itself carved out the terrain for this reason. Posting pictures of cats in various get-ups would be considered out of place.

So, I think the ability to share substance has is about the will of a community to find a unique place where they can set the boundaries of their discourse.