The strangest thing happened to me the other night. I went to see a movie entitled “Untitled.” It’s a comedy, a very dry comedy, about the avant-garde world of art and music. It was a slow night at the Bridge Theater and there were only a few of us there to see the film. My wife turned to me and said, “God, I hate previews. I hope there aren’t any previews.” I gave her a look and said, “Yeah, that’ll happen…”
After a moment, the lights started to dim and the “crowd” settled to get ready for the film. And then, the movie started. There were no previews, no commercials, no announcements. It was a shocking and delightful experience to go to the movies and get the movie without commercial interruption.
This experience made me think of some of the current chatter about Twitter. There seems to be a movement afoot to add commercial interruption to Twitter’s tweet stream. Various advocates are asking for a mailbox to be added to each tweet so it can be stuffed full of flyers. The engineering crowd calls this adding metadata, but it’s really just a ploy to interrupt, and create cubby holes for product placement in the program you tuned in to see. While they could easily just wrap the tweet stream up in their own application and stuff whatever flyers they chose into that sandwich, it would also require the effort of building a separate network. It’s a much easier task to ride on Twitter’s achievements, while simultaneously deriding them for not being open. Or at least open enough for the critics to implement their own business model on top of Twitter’s network. No number of promises about relevancy will make the interrupted Twitter into a pleasurable experience. One can only hope this wasn’t the absolutely fabulous monetization scheme that Dick Costolo was referring to at the RealTime Crunch Up.
Seeing a film at a movie theater without commercial interruption was an entirely pleasurable experience. It’s not one that I anticipate being able to have again, although I would certainly enjoy it. And having had the experience once, I can see that the difference is substantial and important. If the experience is the product, should the question really be about how much water you can put in the whiskey before anyone notices?