“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!

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