Feedback loops

08 March 2006

(this may change at some point in the future; I’m still revising this stuff but thought I may as well put it out there).

Etech06 is going really, really well for me (so far): lots of things emerging in my head, at the least. One thing that’s coming out of quite a bit is a discussion of feedback loops.

Feedback loops are really, really important. Amy Jo Kim touched on feedback as an essential part of ludic design – without feedback, play isn’t satisfying (and play is what all early adopters are doing all the time). Feeedback is what generates challenge/reward structures in games. Feedback loops are how communities emerge – I do something, you do something back; it’s the implicit social structures Amy Jo mentioned. Derek Powazek is currently talking about the “new community” – and mentions MeasureMap.

And, of course, MeasureMap is all about feedback – I can see when I made posts, and when comments came; I can track popularity. I’m no longer sending blindly into the ether; I’m sending and tracking response.

And once you track response, you can write so much better; you can design so much better; you can act on the feedback and you get a loop. And that loop’s really important – it’s what keep things going. If there’s not a feedback loop, things tail off, fall away.

That’s why Google bought MeasureMap: they had Blogger already. People can post to the web; they can broadcast into the ether. Once you give them MeasureMap, they become successful, effective publishers. When people say “what’s the point of blogging?”, they say it as an outsider – they just think it’s publishing. They don’t know about the stat-tracking, the refining. Once you have a feedback loop – once you can see the influence (or lack of it) that you have… that’s when it all clicks. That’s when you get placed into a significance grid – your posts get located in space, time, relevance, authority, etcetera.

Play is about feedback; games are about feedback; publishing is about feedback. A lot of the stuff this morning about attention: it’s all about invisible, natural feedback – tracking eyes-on-screens. We can track hits; now we need to track attention. And when we can measure it, we can value it, and we can price it.

That’s the attention economy. Placing everything into this feedback loop of value.

If you’re a business guy, you see how you can price, monetize, and securitize that feedback. If you’re a player or a hacker, you see what loops you can join together in a mash-up, or where you can generate new feedback, what new variables you can track. And that’s the “connective tissue” that Derek’s talking about.

San Diego so far…

06 March 2006

So, I made it. Been in the states a few days now and I’m pretty much over the jetlag. I think.

ETech kicks off today – I’m sitting watching Cal set up for an eight-hour marathon on How We Built Flickr – well, I missed it in the UK, so I may as well take all the opportunities I can get. My talk is in rude health – pretty much there, just requires a degree of fine tuning.

Have been having a great time in the US so far. The train ride down from LA to SD was just awesome; I’ve got a big stack of gorgeous photos that’ll be gracing Flickr soon, I hope. Then I hung around with Simon and Tom for a while – watching them eat a $200 lunch, hitting up the Apple Store for goodies, and then finally (and much documented), watching the Oscars.

Last night a huge stack of UK geeks went to the Kansas City barbeque joint – as the sign outside said, where the “Top Gun Sleazy Bar Scene” got filmed. Good barbeque, I tell you.

And now the talk’s about to begin. More later…

Off we go

02 March 2006

That’s that, then: one bag packed, everything checked off my list, all my details safely stowed, and I’m checked in onto the plane. All that remains is to get some sleep, and get to Heathrow.

Fingers crossed.

There’s been a long silence here, punctuated by links and the odd post (and the odd picture) but not much else.

There are various reasons for this. The first is the new job – and everything that’s entailed, namely, trying to tie up loose ends at my current job before I leave, today. It’s also been a busy month at work anyway, so that’s made things even more hectic.

And then for the past month or two, at night, and at those weekends, I’ve been working pretty hard on my talk for ETech. I’ve been nervous about that – still am – and it’s taken a fair amount of work to knock it into the shape it’s in. I’m pretty pleased with it now – just hoping it doesn’t bomb at the conference. So that’s the other reason I’ve been busy.

Now, though, it’s practically all done. I’m flying out to LA tomorrow, and then down to San Diego for a week, Saturday to Saturday. I’m really looking forward to ETech. Bar the fear of speaking, I’ve followed it for a fair few years and have always wanted to go; now I’ve got the chance. It’s my first visit to the US, too; the last transatlantic flight I did was Canada when I was 11. So it’s all rather exciting, all told.

If you’re interested in saying hello during ETech, do drop me a line (tom at this domain), or look out for the redhead with the sideburns. I’m going to try and update this blog a bit more frequently when I’m there (which won’t be hard), but it’s not going to approach live-blogging or anything – I’m going to be too busy taking notes, I hope. Keep an eye on my Flickr stream, too.

A bit of a holiday, then, mixed up with a frenetic burst of data that I can’t wait to see. In a few weeks, once I’ve settled into the new jobs, I can start pulling the chocks out of a few other little side-projects. (And, of course, giving myself and the girl some quality time).