OK, I’m letting out a secret. I watch TV shows—and only mindless ones at that. I was hooked on Battlestar Galactica. My husband and I watched religiously—and now it is over. After each episode my husband would go off to Television Without Pity to read what they said and he comes back and tells me.
Why does he do this? After a TV show he goes to find out what everyone says (he does this for Lost too). He rereads the description of the shows—even the ones he watched. (He says: “But I missed something and wanted to know what really happened.” But I know that’s not the whole story.) So I ask him: “What’s this about?”
And of course he has no idea.
But later he says. “It’s about extending the experience.”
“What?” I say.
“I like the show but now it is over—you want more. If you read it you can relive it.”
“Why do you tell me what the commentators say?” (Worse, why do I talk about it back?) It’s not like the Galactica people are real people! Why does anyone sit around talking about made-up characters?
“You see, it extends the experience,” he says.
It becomes part of our conversation—and our theorizing on plot. It becomes part of the topics of our shared lives. And it keeps Galactica alive—for a while anyway.
My son takes a picture with his digital camera—he’s a good photographer. He stops on the trail and shows them to his wife. They comment on how good they are.
The digital camera extends the experience of the flower, the cactus, the moment.
They come home and download the pictures—and look at them again—and relive it again—even as they are picking what to keep.
I visit my family in London who I don’t see often. The girls were in a chorus backing up a popular pop band. They pull up YouTube and show me the video of their experience—they tell me the whole story—they share their experience of the event and the music by showing me related videos to illustrate their point.
They extend the experience of their life by re-experiencing on YouTube.
Another secret: I read mysteries. A lot. Until lately I never reread anything. But I have a few favorite authors. I finished all the books by each author but I wanted that exact experience with that tone and those characters and a particular type of humor…
So after 20 years I read them again—in order of course—and I re-experienced what I once enjoyed.
I don’t know why the people writing Television Without Pity write—what is going on when someone watches something so closely that they can tell you each scene? Do they tape it and transcribe? (Who knows? Please explain!) But maybe they just want to extend the experience too.
So my husband and I got to talk about Galactica because they wrote—and I could share my made-up new ending because I didn’t like the real one. And for a little while—our favorite characters lived on.
Reading after a show or movie is not just “being in the know” or “being part of a community”. It’s not just about having something to talk to others about. It’s also about our reluctance to let go of something that is part of our lives no longer—it is about re-experiencing as a human driver.
Design—product creation—is all about finding value. But value, like “re-experiencing,” is hidden, elusive, and deep within the human psyche. The re-creation of human experience is not your usual “requirement”. Maybe we need to journey to the center of human experience to find the next hot product.