Tag Archives: taste

Like quickly – timing is everything

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In my previous write-up I spoke of the long tail of taste, how it affects our public persona and how we use it to quickly gauge who is worthy of our social graces. I sited the long tail as one of the premises for conjuring up Just Liked. Today I would like to turn to premise number two, which I believe is no less important.

Couple of weeks ago my wife and I happened to vacation in Prague. When we arrived at the hotel, we were cordially ushered in, pampered and treated in the most courteous manner possible. The service was impeccable. What was my first urge? Well, to recommend the hotel, of course.

I just started using Google Nexus One as my phone the week prior, and I already loaded it with all the location-based services goodness. I popped open FourSquare but ICON Hotel and Lounge was not in the database. Every imaginable venue in and around the building was, but not the hotel where we stayed.

I then did the same for Google Maps just to verify that I was not going insane. The hotel was there, but there didn’t seem an easy way to recommend it. At least neither app offered an immediate way to channel the superb experience I was having into a recommendation that my friends could use. It seems now that I should have been a little more patient and used Google Maps to search for the hotel and attack the problem from that angle, but that’s not the point.

Now, the point:

If you can’t attend to the urge to share or record a fleeting emotion in a 10-30 second interval, then it’s gone forever.

It's ticking...

It’s like pre-history. If you can’t write it down, it’s lost for the future generations. And these good feelings come and go very quickly. The memory of the positive experience stays with you, but the urge to share it with others fades. The memory alone does not provide enough motivation to return to the task, and you move on to something else.

I know what you are thinking:

How the hell are all the reviews on Yelp and similar sites generated?

Or if you are a bit more subtle in your delivery:

Pardon me, how the hell are all the reviews on Yelp and similar sites generated?

I don’t know. I guess the people who write reviews are somehow special. I think there is the “recommender” type, one who incessantly pores over every aspect of their existence to review and recommend every relevant bit. I am also sometimes struck by the length of these reviews. Some of these are treatises, not reviews. I suspect that few Yelpers recommend a lot of things, and a lot of Yelpers recommend a couple of things, but there is a huge gap in between.  There are few prolific reviewers and many who rely on the few for advice.

One possible reason for the gap is that there is no instant, like anything, anywhere type of service. People feel good about a service or a product or whatever else a lot more than what is already captured by the existing review sites. Why not capture more?

That’s what we are trying to do.

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The Long Tail of Taste

One of the premises for dreaming up Just Liked is that when a friend tells me “I like Starbucks coffee” I, for one, would consider this piece of information less interesting than if he would have told me that he likes Kopi Luwak coffee. If he also told me he had it at Herveys Range Heritage Tea Rooms in North Queensland, Australia for a mere $33.00 a cup, I would have thought him some sort of coffee connoisseur.

Our likes and dislikes play a profound role in defining who we are and how we position ourselves within our social circle. I am not a sociologist (if you haven’t guessed this much already), but I am convinced that everyone born and raised in societies where individuality is valued strives for some sort of uniqueness. This drive for uniqueness finds an outlet in our physical appearance, our purchasing decisions, our food, our travel and just about everything else. We do not want to appear indistinguishable, we want our identity to stand out, to sparkle and to signal to those sharing the same preferences, interests and values, which also means that there is a palpable  social behavior attached to the drive. Well, the extroverts have it anyways.

The long tail of taste (not drawn to scale)

Yes, there are extreme examples of eclecticism (and its close cousin elitism) but I would argue that the extremes only appear extreme because the observer is not a part of a given social circle. If you can appreciate drinking yak milk with Buddhist monks in the Himalayas, then chances are someone you know does too. Taste flows both ways. It’s used to define who you are and to attract those who are like yourself, so it’s used at once to make people stand out from the rest and to bind them together. This simple social dynamic is what we wish to tap with Just Liked.