So it was 2Screen last night. Bout telly and internet and stuff. In all seriousness, it was a good night. I promised the Kersh that I'd make *detailed* notes, so here they are (or the bits I found interesting).
First up was Matt Locke, who spoke about 'attention shapes' - reframing the 2screen proposition to think about the shifts in the way we spend attention. He drew quite a nice parallel with 'peak oil', suggesting we might have reached 'peak attention' (going to see how many times I can use attention in this post) - i.e. before peak oil we were concerned with extracting, and now we're concerned with conserving.
It was amazing to learn that there used to be a one-way telephone service which you could dial into to listen to content, but Matt's talk was mainly about four different attention shapes that he'd noticed as a broadcaster:
1. Live, synchronous shapes
Something that broadcast does well is getting people to watch things together, which is why ad space in live sporting events/X-factor still has so much value/impact. The addition of social media to these big synchronous shapes creates a more visceral experience.
He raised an interesting point about shows that work well with social media needing to 'have holes'. Something like Secret Millionaire fulfills too perfect a story arc for social media to add a layer of meaning.
I'm really interested shift in focus from the number of people doing something (i.e. overall site visitors) to the number of people doing something together in the digital space.
2. Cult shapes
People still give undivided attention to good content (Mad Men, film), so the social experience of cult content ("shows to savour") is about where you are in the story. I liked the idea of 'binge attention' (box set weekends).
Recommended Jonathan Gray's book Show Sold Separately.
3. Factual shapes
Obviously this is Matt Locke's specialist subject and he took us through some of the stuff he's done at C4. It was interesting to see the life of their 1066 show and game. While interest around the show shadowed the air dates, the game took on a life of its own.
4. Playful shapes
This was about asynchonous moments that you fit in around your life. Broadcasters don't really understand how to tell stories in 5 minutes or how to design for 5 minute attention slots, whereas Zynga really do.
In summary, where once content creators decided the shapes of attention, audiences are now creating their own attention shapes. I think it is really valuable to think upfront about what attention space you are creating for.
Yikes. I got progressively more drunk over the course of the night (had leaving drinks to go to after and didn't want to turn up sober), so I've made less notes per speaker. Next up was Margaret Robertson, who talked about 2 screens more in relation to games. Some random bits:
- I loved the idea that X-factor is a show that is made for people to talk about while they watch it (i.e. lots of repetition), whether that conversation is on the sofa or though social networks.
- WoW have struck a deal with PopCap to embed casual games within their game. I love the idea of WoW recognising that people get bored within their world and catering for that to keep them within the game - cue evil laugh.
Basically, Margaret's take on 2screen was the danger of 'focusing on the technology and not on the phenomenon of split attention'. We've always done it, but content providers haven't wanted to admit it, and therefore haven't designed for it. Her attention strategies:
"All the same thing"
- It is possible to get all of someone's attention in one place, i.e. Mad Men
- Split the content across a number of screens to try and keep them herded in your world
"All your stuff, but not all the same thing" - i.e. different people have different experiences
- Allow people to customise stuff to their preference
- Using different screens to "make your thing into different things", i.e. windows and filters
"Only half your stuff"
- Explicitly design for 1/2 your audiences attention (Hide & Seek are apparently working on physical games that are designed to be played while you're doing something else - I wonder, don't board games sort of fit into this category?)
- Make your content change or comment on the thing that has the other half of your audience attention.
Lastly, was Kevin Slavin of Area Code who introduced a nice idea about how shared experience is actually what imbues content with meaning and how we should look to design technologies to resynchronise.
He spoke about canned laughter ('laughter from nowhere') as a method that TV has used to sychronise, create that sense of being in a room with everyone else (it's really odd watching stuff with the laughter removed - watch here). He made a Herdlike statement about what we enjoy is about what other people enjoy: "it's the crowd that releases storytelling magic, essential, communal, multiplied, wonderful". The connected audience (already connected by digital social channels) is a better solution for shared experience than canned laughter ('laughter from everywhere').
With Starling he is investigating ways of using the connected audience. I loved the 'competitive chat' on the Hills Backchannel that becomes possible when the conversation is a visible layer over the content. Maybe TV-based twitter chat doesn't need to be 140 characters, because its a channel demanding your secondary attention, maybe 40 characters will do.
The goal for Slavin is for episodes to become [synchronous] events, which rewards both viewers (richer experience) and broadcasters (more guaranteed eyeballs, more money). Some other random bits from his talk:
- Derren Brown can get you to "breathe deeply" because you watch in the knowledge that the rest of the population are doing the same
- "No geolocated game is as big as TV"
- TV hasn't fully realised its value as a network
I kinda wish I'd taken pictures. This has been a lot of words (over 1,000!). I think I used synchronous more than I used attention. Not sure how many times I spelled it right. Thanks for reaching the end.