Monday, April 28, 2008

The Sitcom - Social Lubricant

The Sitcom - The Social Lubricant needed in a time of our society changing from the Industrial Age to the Information Age.

I really like that idea. It gives me hope that the Internet will change the way that we interact with our entertainment.AIM Sitcom 8 -- by Aaron Webb

Gin, Television, and Social Surplus - Here Comes Everybody

If I had to pick the critical technology for the 20th century, the bit of social lubricant without which the wheels would've come off the whole enterprise, I'd say it was the sitcom. Starting with the Second World War a whole series of things happened--rising GDP per capita, rising educational attainment, rising life expectancy and, critically, a rising number of people who were working five-day work weeks. For the first time, society forced onto an enormous number of its citizens the requirement to manage something they had never had to manage before--free time.

And what did we do with that free time? Well, mostly we spent it watching TV.

We did that for decades. We watched I Love Lucy. We watched Gilligan's Island. We watch Malcolm in the Middle. We watch Desperate Housewives. Desperate Housewives essentially functioned as a kind of cognitive heat sink, dissipating thinking that might otherwise have built up and caused society to overheat.

And it's only now, as we're waking up from that collective bender, that we're starting to see the cognitive surplus as an asset rather than as a crisis. We're seeing things being designed to take advantage of that surplus, to deploy it in ways more engaging than just having a TV in everybody's basement.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Twitter is Something New

I'm not the first one to discover this but it took me a few attempts before really understanding why is a game changer.

Twitter is known as a micro-blog tool, which isn't interesting in the least.  You could always limit yourself to 140 characters without a service.  What Twitter is not, is a way to update your life-status (i.e. I'm getting lunch ready).

For me, Twitter is a chatting room tool to converse with only people you are interested in.  In many ways, Twitter combines the usefulness of IRC and IM with Facebook's social web.  When you let Twitter pull your addressbook for a list of current contacts already using Twitter you may or may not find close friends showing up.  For me, I was pleasently suprised to find a bunch of people who I've corresponded only once or just happened to be subscribed to the same email list-serv.  These were all people that I have something in common, however insignificant.

Twitter allows people to follow or not follow people with very little barriers.  If someone you follow just irritates you, you can remove the offending person without affecting anyone else.

Facebook is set to launch an Instant Messaging service.  Unfortunately, they haven't realized that Twitter beat them to it.  I can't imagine Facebook having a better system.  Facebook would be better off just buying Twitter for whatever obscene price Twitter is willing to make a deal.   Twitter also needs to somehow be combined with -- either by Facebook buying both companies and merging the teams or by Twitter offering to buy so that they get the same talent on their team.