Thursday, January 31, 2013

a million first listens

disconcerting parallels to be drawn between the effect of digiculture/internet on music fandom and the effects of digiculture/onlinedatingsites on luv 'n' romance, in this article "A Million First Dates" by Dan Slater, author Love in the Time of Algorithms.

... Most of the online-dating-company executives I interviewed while writing my new book... agreed with what research appears to suggest: the rise of online dating will mean an overall decrease in commitment....  

'Historically,' says Greg Blatt, the CEO of’s parent company, 'relationships have been billed as ‘hard’ because, historically, commitment has been the goal. You could say online dating is simply changing people’s ideas about whether commitment itself is a life value.'...  

Another online-dating exec hypothesized an inverse correlation between commitment and the efficiency of technology. 'I think divorce rates will increase as life in general becomes more real-time,” says Niccolò Formai, the head of social-media marketing at Badoo, a meeting-and-dating app with about 25 million active users worldwide. 'Think about the evolution of other kinds of content on the Web—stock quotes, news. The goal has always been to make it faster. The same thing will happen with meeting.'"....    

An industry survey titled “How Has Internet Dating Changed Society?”... produced the following conclusions: 'Internet dating has made people more disposable'.. 'People expect to... access people anywhere, anytime, based on complex search requests … The whole world (versus, say, the city we live in) will, increasingly, feel like the market for our partner(s). Our pickiness will probably increase'.”

Basically, with both music-love and love-love, excess of options works against cathexis...  non-commital vacillation aka playing the field is encouraged because of the tantalising possibility of something better

Every first listen to a new record robs an already-listened-once record of its chance at a second or third or fourth listen....    the encounter in which a deeper love and attachment and understanding might form....

(Which is perhaps why such a large proportion of the releases released in the post-broadband era, even the ones I loved and blogged about and put in my end of year faves round-ups, have not endured with me... pre-Internet, yes, sure, there was a degree of wastage, of things falling naturally by the wayside (the critic's life involving high turnover, moving on constantly, processing at speed)  but it feels like that ratio of not-stayed-with-me to stayed-with-me has gotten much worse)

Two bits that ring a parallel bell rather loudly:

At the selection stage, researchers have seen that as the range of options grows larger, mate-seekers are liable to become “cognitively overwhelmed,” and deal with the overload by adopting lazy comparison strategies and examining fewer cues. As a result, they are more likely to make careless decisions than they would be if they had fewer options, and this potentially leads to less compatible matches. Moreover, the mere fact of having chosen someone from such a large set of options can lead to doubts about whether the choice was the “right” one.

[sentence #2 has applications in re. chronic downloading and the "oh what the hell why not" mindset]

Jacob has noticed that, over time, he feels less excitement before each new date. “Is that about getting older,” he muses, “or about dating online?” How much of the enchantment associated with romantic love has to do with scarcity (this person is exclusively for me), and how will that enchantment hold up in a marketplace of abundance (this person could be exclusively for me, but so could the other two people I’m meeting this week)?...  

A final interesting point emerging out of the piece:

"Indeed, the profit models of many online-dating sites are at cross-purposes with clients who are trying to develop long-term commitments. A permanently paired-off dater, after all, means a lost revenue stream"

relates to my long-held belief that obsessively fixated fandom (whether of a group or a sound/ scene / style) goes against the  music industry's interests because at a certain point the obsessive is taken out of the market

although hardcore fans of teenybop or Pink Floyd type bands alike can be exploited with merchandise, spin-offs, deluxes reissues, etc , overall I think capitalism prefers and requires weakly-cathected music fans because the ideal consumer is one who keeps buying, keeps moving  on, temporarily muting "that empty feeling" by snacking at the vast buffet of music to which new dishes keep getting added

of course when music is not just instant-access but free then the whole model collapses... the industry falls foul of the very greed and fickleness it has so stoked for so long!


of course these are old concerns - e.g. the fanatics versus dilettantes debate back in 2003 - during which the analogy with monogamy versus promiscuity reared its head

1 comment:

  1. Utterly unsurprising, all of it.

    > and deal with the overload by adopting lazy comparison strategies and examining fewer cues.