Time Lords

“You got the time, Uma?” “Heaps, Ethan.”

I just noticed this at NYT via @rosshill: Andrew Niccol, Writer/Director of ‘Gattica’, is plotting out a new sci-fi flick where time is the currency:

“Niccol’s project is set in the not-too-distant future where the aging gene has been switched off. To avoid overpopulation, time has become the currency and the way people pay for luxuries and necessities. The rich can live forever, while the rest try to negotiate for their immortality.”

This is a really fascinating notion to explore in a (current) world where media and technology are commanding our time, rather than creating or even releasing it. When we kicked off the Royals a couple of years ago, one of the fundamental beliefs that we had was you that had to ‘earn people’s attention’ (you can’t just have it..). We even considered naming the company ‘Time Lords’ knowing that brands and organisations are going to increasingly need help with negotiating ‘time spent’ with consumers in non-intrusive ways (by the way, our current work with News Limited is very much focussed around this challenge/opportunity).

This week Steve Rubel predicted the iPad could potentially accelerate the attention crash and he’s probably onto something, although it’s too early to truly understand the effects of tablet usage on media consumption habits. One thing that does stand out about the iPad and it’s ilk, is that it’s an ideal interface for a co-viewing experience (live adjacent content for TV) and back-channel (chat, #tweets, polls etc). But your current attention divided by two screens means fracturing of some kind. This notion also reminds me of advertisng models where watching branded messages can subsidize the cost of your content or data (is that what Blyk was trying).

So when devising content or brand experiences, more than ever we need to think carefully about where the consumer time is coming from. It’s obviously a finite resource with a tangible value so something has to give. I wonder if it’s possible to create a formula or metric that measures the average cost of consumer time. I’m not sure what would go into determining this as a commidity value but I’m pretty sure it would be trending upwards..

NB. Intreresting aside: Niccol’s sci-fi script, is, as noted by the NYT “.. one of the hot projects for the under-25 set because every character looks young. (The scenario makes it so that onscreen, adults such as parents appear to be the same age as their kids.)”. Hollywood gold!

Padding up: first impressions

Just starting to map out some personal experiences of using the iPad in the first week..

– It’s certainly more than “a big iPod Touch”, although if purely looking at form factor it’s an undestandable mistake to make. My initial feeling is that it’s closer to a computer than an iPod.
– it’s freaky quick (hope it stays that way after I clog it full of stuff)
– Amazon books on iPad will be where it’s at (although, as expected, it’s probably to heavy to read ‘novel-like’ in one hand).
– the lovely screen really dresses up content and makes it shiny.
– the newspaper and magazine apps are definately very 1.0 – which is understandable (I still can’t understand why Apple doesn’t let content creators develop and test on it months in advance).

And, maybe most interestingly, I really think I will read much more on this screen than any other I’ve come across – I’m not sure I want multi-apping capabilities to distract me :)

UPDATE:
After a couple of days occasional use, I’m starting to get used to the initial awkwardness of holding and typing on it. I seem to have found comfortable positions for different tasks.

But.. the uber-glossy screen looks sooo dirty in certain lighting that it can be quite annoying. I wonder if people will get used to this or modify their behaviour first.

UPDATE 2:
It’s bright/vivid screen radiates light in a dimly lit, public place that kinda makes you look like you’re sunning yourself. This would be the case for a laptop too but you’re more inclined to pull out the iPad in a range of contexts that you would never pull out your laptop in.

WiFi didn’t work in the first hotel room I stayed in (..It did work for my laptop). I suspect this was about the hotel’s own browser, authentication method, rather than the ipad itself, but disappointing. I’m hopping Paddy will be a good travel companion (eventually).

UPDATE 3:
This summarises of the feeling of intimacy of consumption that I’ve been feeling using Paddy. From Information Architects, Inc:

“The iPad brings hands and eyes back together.”

You feel closer to, even a part of, the content experience because of the screen size, removal of keyboard and feeling of unaided (finger not mouse) control.