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Digital Signalling

July 13th, 2009 · 13 Comments

Ezra Klein, Matt Yglesias, and James Wolcott are all fretting over how we’ll broadcast the wonderful stuff we’re reading and listening to in the age of the Kindle. By my lights, it’s gotten a lot easier to do this where it matters. Sure, the random folks you’re sharing a subway car with won’t see you’re thumbing through Proust, but really, when was the last time you actually paid that much notice to other people’s subway reading choices? Is there really a point to signalling at people who don’t know who you are, don’t care, and will probably never see you again? Meanwhile, as you can note from the right-hand sidebar on this blog, it’s now quite easy to signal not just the one book you’re reading at the moment, but your immediate music playlist and the half dozen records, books, and movies in your current rotation.

Fine if you’re a blogger, you might say, but what about everyone else? We’re at most a few years off from broad adoption of augmented reality applications in widely-used smartphones, which will have all of us radiating reams of data to anyone in our physical proximity who actually cares. Your Facebook profile will dog you like one of those floating Sims icons. You won’t just know what the girl sitting across the coffee shop is blasting on her iPod, you’ll be able to listen in. All the tech is actually here already, if not in quite the fancy form it’s implemented at the link above. All it would take is for someone to integrate the location-sensitive functions of an app like Loopt into the apps for Facebook or Last.fm, and you’ve got a point-and-profile system. The real question is whether people actually want to signal that much in the physical context. Some of us are chary of giving every stranger in ping-shot a pretext for striking up a conversation.

Tags: Art & Culture · Sociology


       

 

13 responses so far ↓

  • 1 LP // Jul 13, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t tell you that a University of Colorado-based startup company just launched a location-aware social networking iPhone app (http://www.apptism.com/apps/hoozat). Right now it only delivers facebook profiles of folks around you, but the company plans to expand the platform to myspace, last.fm, etc. It’s easy to see how this can enable a whole new level of ‘digital signaling’, but it’s not 100% clear to me who will be interested in this, aside from college students scoping out bar prospects.

  • 2 LP // Jul 13, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    By the way: “augmented reality” is excellent marketing, given that “virtual reality” is taken, and I wish I’d thought of it.

  • 3 Look At Me…I’m Reading Kurt Vonnegut, Damn It! « Michael Preston // Jul 14, 2009 at 1:12 am

    [...] better off without these advertisements of our intellectual or cultural tastes, but Ezra Klein and Julian Sanchez note that existing social networking tools or forthcoming technological advances will still allow [...]

  • 4 Clint // Jul 14, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    “We’re at most a few years off from broad adoption of augmented reality applications in widely-used smartphones, which will have all of us radiating reams of data to anyone in our physical proximity who actually cares. Your Facebook profile will dog you like one of those floating Sims icons. You won’t just know what the girl sitting across the coffee shop is blasting on her iPod, you’ll be able to listen in.”

    That’s amazing to imagine. Thanks for posting the link, too.

    I for one have found the negativity towards the Kindle completely ridiculous. Most of the criticism features a love of paper for nostalgic purposes — not for any functional advantage.

  • 5 Number 6 // Jul 14, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    Is there really a point to signalling at people who don’t know who you are, don’t care, and will probably never see you again?
    Sorry to pull out a Rand phrase, but the answer is “Only if you’re a pathetic second-hander.”

  • 6 Matthew Yglesias » Will Pervasive Social Networking Turn Museums Into Pickup Hot-Spots? // Jul 14, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    [...] consider this issue raised by Julian Sanchez: We’re at most a few years off from broad adoption of augmented reality [...]

  • 7 Thanks to Augment Reality Applications, Your Commute Is About to Get More Interactive | The Stimulist // Jul 14, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    [...] and it sure sounds plausible, subtlety is about to go the way of Walkmans and pagers. Here’s his prediction: We’re at most a few years off from broad adoption of augmented reality applications in [...]

  • 8 Hobbes // Jul 14, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    The next step after augmented reality will be augmented fantasy. Useful for when you’d like to have something like google latitude show your location as the library rather than a coffee shop, or have the music on you’re blasting on your iPod come from the favorites list of the guy sitting across from you.

  • 9 ToddSeavey.com » Blog Archive » Panarcho-Capitalists, Tradicals, and More “Conservatism for Punks” // Jul 14, 2009 at 11:54 pm

    [...] — so who knows what comes next.  I also feel old just reading this Julian Sanchez post on how to mediate yourself for other people, as though we automatically want that — but he is admirably wary of phony mediation in [...]

  • 10 Etl World News | Assorted links // Jul 15, 2009 at 5:18 am

    [...] 5. The future of cultural signaling. [...]

  • 11 Etl World News | Assorted links // Jul 15, 2009 at 5:18 am

    [...] 5. The future of cultural signaling. [...]

  • 12 mobile // Jul 15, 2009 at 11:10 am

    Hint: one tried-and-true way to signal your high status is to not ride the subway.

  • 13 DigitalFeed.Info » Blog Archive » Digital Signalling // Jul 15, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    [...] students scoping out bar prospects. 2 LP // Jul 13, 2009 at 2:12 pm … Original post: Digital Signalling Object July 13th [...]

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