Ambient Concierge


“Aggressive music can only shock you once. Afterwards its impact declines. It's inevitable.”

[Brian Eno]

When I used to watch TV, I noticed the volume would go up during commercials. They were not only interruptions to the flow of the story – usually a movie, the reason why I was watching, entertainment – they were also designed to shock the viewer into paying attention.

And it worked, the first time. Maybe the second time, too. Then, you'd get used to it. In some cases, you could even anticipate the moment and hit mute on your remote. Which is why I found the Arrigoni pasta commercials so captivating.

They did just the opposite. Instead of shouting, they had total silence. Just people (beautiful people) eating, and being social.

Social media was next

The use of social networks and tools, for many, started as a way to share information with friends, keep in touch over distances. Most messages just quiet exchanges between friends, or acquaintances. People were kind of making their own movies and stories.

Then the services came in to interrupt those exchanges, first borrowing from the terminology of TV with concepts like shout… except for what is louder than a shout? A whisper. Whispering is intimate. It's done up close. And it's closely related to listening.

The candles are lit. The lights are low. Social media has set the table, and your conversation partner is waiting to hear what you have to say. There's no need to shout. They're listening, and expect you to do the same.

How about business?

Which businesses shout, and which ones whisper? Which ones provide a context to support you, and what you want to do? Which ones ask you to drop everything for them, right now?

Opportunity is at the counter intuitive end of the spectrum. Where business is ambient concierge. I used this term before.

The biggest impact you can have in people's lives is in the behind the scenes role. All the freedom is there.


0 responses to “Ambient Concierge”

  1. To correct a persistent misperception, the volume of TV ads is not louder than the show. It is perceived as louder because advertisers long ago learned to use a full audio spectrum to draw your attention, which TV shows typically don’t do (or, do as much).
    The actual output level (RMS) is identical whether for ads or TV show, but the anatomy of our ears fools our brains into thinking the volume has increased during commercials. Our perception of loudness is not linear across frequencies, so what you react to is being presented with a full spectrum of sound waves, not a louder signal.
    Splitting a gnats hair, but accurate. Perception, is reality? Back to the REAL issue…..

  2. Thank you for this, Glenn. I would have never learned it otherwise. And stopped watching TV North of 15 years ago, so my third screen just serves videos/movies I rent/stream.
    Well executed, too with “back to the REAL issue…” at the end there.

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