A friend of mine clued me into this interesting article: https://www.yahoo.com/tech/i-liked-everything-i-saw-on-facebook-for-2-days-heres-94435047974.html You should read the article but the gist is that a person ‘liked’ everything they saw on Facebook and then their feeds quickly went to a place devoid of actual human posts. The resulting posts were especially polarized and extreme and driven not by regular people. Mobile went that way quicker than the desktop version, probably due to less screen real estate and the higher importance of mobile ads. Much of FB’s content is through mobile. It was an interesting experiment that the author: Mat Honan conducted. It led me to think and then write this post.
I’ll go on a tangent here about the nature of humor. I think other human experiences are similar, though their mechanisms will necessarily differ. Not lets take all the things that a person thinks is funny. Lets call this a person’s ‘Humorspace.’ Now this space is greatly influenced by what you thought was funny in the past. Your sense of humor develops over time. Situational humor is funny for many groups of people because many people experience the exact same situations and the comedian uses that to craft something funny. Something is funny (there are many theories to this) because in general your brain rewards you for strengthening existing-but-weak neural connections. Something is funny because the incident is not common, but not so far away as to have no connection (excluding any absurdists). Two people will think something is funny when their brains share similar strengths of connections for the topic. Not lets take all the things that a person thinks is ‘funny’ and lets call this a person’s Humor-space. Now this space is greatly influenced by what you thought was funny in the past. Your sense of humor develops over time. We can say if two people think something is funny then there is an intersection of their humor-space at that point in time.
Now go to Pinterest and type in humor in the search bar (or just click http://www.pinterest.com/all/humor/). Try it via different IP addresses, or the same IP Address but logged in and not. Are there differences in the content displayed? I was able to see completely different information when logged in vs not. Now what happens if you and I experience different content? Would not our humor-space drift apart over time? With such a vast amount of content, it’s improbably that we would have the same content. Are the algorithms that feed us content divergent, convergent, or simply psuedo-random walks? Now suppose that we discover a way to live forever, a likely way would be some method of uploading our consciousness to a virtual environment. We will likely still be able to be fed and consume media content in the immortal age. After decades and decades, or centuries of time, it will probably be inevitable that our experiences will drift farther from other people.
What would happen to two people after many years. Would their humor-spaces diverge far from each other so that they are no longer similar. Would we be able to make the other person laugh?
Is Live-Event TV growing? I’ve heard some chatter off and on about the way that networks are combating streaming TV services, like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime by offering more live-event TV. (I use the term Live-Event-TV to include live-TV and simple time-shifted TV viewing like on a DVR). Think about it for it a minute… What was the last show you routinely watched and then went into the office/school the next day and said “Hey did you see XYZ last night? Pretty awesome/thrilling/funny huh?” For me it was some of the earlier seasons of ‘The Office’, which ended in 2013. It seems to me that networks are driving more content to live-events that cannot be streamed later. This is a way of converging people towards one set of content and it differs. It seems to me that many people are interested in this as they sense a drift in their experience space from other people they know. The Superbowl is still a fun event, even though pro-football doesn’t interest me. I love it because we have parties and everyone is there sharing the same experience. Our experience-spaces are becoming more similar and we like it. Growth of live-event-tv will continue as our media space becomes increasingly balkanized.
I use ‘balkanization’ on purpose. The definition seems to indicate subdivisions with increasing hostility between them. The article referenced above indicates that content was driven to hostile and incompatible extremes.