The CRTC Discoverability Summit’s closing remarks: biology and media

On science and strategy: the Discoverability Summit winds up

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Day: May 11
Time: 4:00PM – 5:00PM

“Thoughts on discoverability from the perspective of machines, humans, and all the rest of nature that’s between them.”

Video summary

The CRTC Discoverability Summit has explored discoverability of content and distribution strategy from all angles. In these closing remarks, Kevin Slavin, of the MIT Media Lab, sums up by defining discoverability as a phenomenon and explaining the science behind it. According to Slavin, discoverability is actually a fundamental biological, psychological, and psycho-social principle. His explanation starts with birds – a flock of birds, which are all doing the same thing, without a boss bird or conductor or orchestration. This is an example of ‘limbic resonance,’ the wordless harmony we see everywhere, including between humans, which is based on the group or crowd. Slavin uses this phenomenon to explain why a movie that is disappointing in the living room is electrifying in the cinema. Watch the closing remarks, and find out how the success of multi-media platforms is based on this science, and how to use the science to handle context collapse.

Experts in this video

Government Film Commissioner and Chairperson of the NFB

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, CRTC

Director, Playful Systems Group, MIT Media Lab

Video transcript excerpts

“It’s the crowd that releases story telling magic. The essential, communal, multiplied wonder.”

“This is a game where you play a shark researcher. You’re in the Pacific Ocean, and you’re looking for sharks. You can see your ship there, and you’re looking how to intersect with the kinds of sharks. It’s all real time. It’s going to take about four hours for the ship to move 50 pixels, which if you sat and watched it, would the dullest video game in the world, which is the competitive market…The thing that was more interesting than sharks with GPS transceivers stapled to their fins, was the fact that we could interrupt your day to alert you to that, and bring you back into the game…It led us to an overall fascination, and interest, and engagement, with the dynamics of broadcasts in real time.”

“There are a couple of Harvard psychologists who framed this thing, and called it limbic resonance. They said limbic resonance supplies the wordless harmony we see everywhere but take for granted, between mother and infant, a boy and his dog, the silent reverberations between minds that’s basically invisible to us.”

“The Tumblr that we run for Dr. Who is the second largest branded Tumblr on Tumblr, after Beyonce. Let me be clear that Beyonce spends a lot to promote that in ways that we don’t. It’s all earned, what we’re doing. It produced, for example, the largest TV numbers on Tumblr. The 50th anniversary of Dr. Who was larger than the Super Bowl, the VMA’s, and the Grammys put together, on Tumblr.”

“What people are encountering when they hit the ‘everything is going to be fine’ gif set on Tumblr…because actually there’s a bunch of laughter, or sadness, or just fundamental, authentic human emotions, and then, looking to see, well, where is that directed? That, for me, that’s what discovery should be, can be, must be, and will be.”

“What these ants are doing is basically building a straight line. If you’ve ever had ants, you know they’re really good at this. How do they do that? There’s no leader. There’s nobody in charge, and they figure [it] out…This is discoverability.”

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