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From connection to transaction

The other evening I observed the following sequence of events.

My wife was using Facebook to introduce two people to each other. One of the people had in his timeline some messages from Shaun White of whom he is a fan. Having only heard about Shaun White because of the Wii game that carries his name I encouraged her to click through to Shaun White's facebook profile. Once there, we watched an impressive video with amazing slo-mo snowboarding stunts. The last ten seconds of the video featured a different song on the soundtrack than the rest of the video. Leilani thought she knew the song but couldn't quite place it. I got out my iPhone and we Shazam'ed the piece to learn that it was an 80s song, Pop goes the world by Men without hats. We looked up Men Without Hats on iTunes and learned that some of their songs were featured on an 80s compilation album: 60 songs for £4.49.

And she bought it.

Probably a pretty normal story, trivial really. From connection to transaction. After all, most of our purchases are the result of some influence or other. But the dynamics of the story are compelling in two ways:

  • The chain of events traverses social networking, video streaming, a smartphone app and an online music store. Multimedia in the original sense of the phrase with all the big players represented: Facebook, Google and Apple.
  • The underlying mechanics are large scale and complex in order to deliver a relatively simple experience: Server farms, pattern matching, payment processing, multi-party legal agreements.

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