Friday, November 2, 2007

Critical Mass = 2?

It seems that my critical mass for checking out new things based on recommendations or references is somewhere around two. That is, catching a glimpse of something vaguely interesting registers it in the neocortex with a little emotional marking, based on the source and content. Given a second reference or recommendation, plus the right context, seems to have recently led to some interesting forays. For example, I was told that Landmarc was a good spot to dine by some semi-anonymous drunkards last week, and then an old friend did shine a light upon it as well. One very satisfying (though pricey) meal later, with new friends and new tips, I see the rule of 2 at work.

It happened again tonight, with Brijit. More than just the name of a college chum's ex-girlfriend, Brijit is a nifty site offering bite-size (<100 words) ADD-oriented reviews of various pieces of long-form journalism. The blurbs are submitted by registered users to a panel of editors, who boil it down to one postable bit. And then they pay the "winner" with a shiny fiver in the paypal. This was power-of-twoed at me by, which didn't fully agree with my enthusiastic assessment. However, it's the second rec/ref in as many days, so I dove right in - and approve. (I think the first may have been from thrillist)

Already submitted an abstract on A-Rod in the onion. Hoo-hah I love me some encapsulated ranting. Not sure if I can post it here (they might own my words! eep!), but we shall see if I become five American dollars richer!

As for the theory of two-ness as pertains to refs and recs, I can't make a categorical claim, as a)my evidence is all anecdotal and from the past week; b)this phenomenon is probably deeper and more interesting than can be fully covered here; c)I bet the number shifts for each instance, but I also bet there is a relationship that can be described and elucidated through experiment.

Hence, some research questions:
What influence do the recommendations of friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances have on whether we choose to engage in some activity? And what is the role of the other contributory factors, such as memory, emotion, content, and context? Fodder for my future!

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