A look into the design of in-game user interfaces.
As mapped by psychologist Daniel Nettle, via John Kay’s ‘Obliquity’…
1) Short-term: Momentary physical responses - e.g laughter, sex, etc
2) Intermediate: ’State of mind’ happiness - a sense of satisfaction or well-being. This typically arises from an internal judgment on our feelings, rather than the feelings themselves… e.g ‘I feel content at the moment’ may be the upshot of lots of momentary physical responses
3) Long-term: ‘Eudaimonia’… A concept originally propounded by Aristotle, translated as ‘flourishing’ (though I think it literally means something like ‘good guardian spirits’). This is more about contentment in a long-term sense: fulfiling potential, achieving life goals, etc.
Of course, Eckhart Tolle would say you can only find happiness in the short-term because the future doesn’t exist. But there you go.
If (like me) you think that many of our extant business models are a busted flush, and that we have really only seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of how technology will change the way we do commerce, then you should probably be interested in where the top new tech companies actually come from.
This looks at the geographical homes of the top 50 new tech start-ups as ranked by Business Week and though I may question some of the inclusions/omissions in that top 50, the overall pattern is interesting to see.
The main conclusion is that it’s probably worth moving to California. Which shouldn’t be too much of a hardship. Oh and 10 of those 28 Californian businesses are in San Francisco.
We often talk about cultural currency - x or y has gained cultural currency when it has penetrated people’s thoughts and thus their conversations. In particular, the fabled ‘watercooler’-type conversation when everyone’s buzzing with the same topic contemporaneously. For the purposes of this train of thought, I’m going to suggest a definition that cultural currency = attention + WOM.
Unlike most fiscal currencies, though, I’d argue that cultural currency is fixed in supply. You can’t print more because there’s only so many thoughts/conversations that people can have. So most of us are fighting to gain a share of that fixed quantity of cultural currency.
And the truth is, in the old days, if you worked in advertising, TV, music, film - any of the big ‘cultural’ industries - you were pretty much guaranteed a working portion of the cultural currency. Because there were only so many cultural sources and so if you invested x amount in promoting your film, or got your TV show on prime TV Saturday night telly, it was odds on that you’d gain a decent share of cultural currency.
Nowadays, things couldn’t be more different. The endless splitting of media channels, platforms and technologies means that we dole out our cultural currency in much smaller denominations, to a far wider group of recipients.
Let’s say in the old days I had £100 of my own personal cultural currency to give out. I’d probably chunk it out in £20 portions, hand a couple of those to my favourite TV shows, 1 to my favourite book, 1 to my favourite music and then maybe the last one to a film.
Nowadays, I’m handing out my attention in £1 units, spread over a multiplicity of websites/TV shows/books/e-books/apps/casual games/magazines/forums et cetera. You get the picture.
The implication for advertisers is immense.
As a business, for all the hot air, we still tend to act as though a large share of the cultural currency is our given right. In the old days, you could probably get tongues wagging by spending a bit of cash, doing something a bit different, sticking it in a popular slot. And so we still assume that if we make - for example - an expensively shot TV ad and stick it in prime-time, we are guaranteed a set proportion of the cultural currency. We are wrong. We may still be able to guarantee reaching a certain number of eyeballs, but it is attention and WOM that is in limited supply - and we need to face up to the competition.
The next time you look at a campaign, don’t evaluate the media plan in terms of reach and frequency. Don’t evaluate the creative with that old mindset of ‘if we build it, they will come’.
Anticipate that your audience has already handed out 99% of their cultural currency. They’re going to be pretty picky about who they hand that last 1% over to.