Too long; Didn´t watch

On: September 16, 2015
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About Alina Niemann
Working for almost two years in a Berlin based web agency, I now returned to university to learn about new media research pratices, methods and theories.

   

We all know the feeling – there are just not enough hours in the day to attend to all the interesting things out there. There might now be a solution for at least one aspect of the dilemma, a solution, that people familiar with the slang expression TL;DW (too long, didn´t watch) will find especially interesting.

An israeli start-up has developed the app Minute, a piece of software that aims to present only relevant and interesting video content to its users, thus saving precious time for watching instead of searching. So far it sounds like one more app, built on a recommender system. But there is more to it.

The app is not just recommending items drawing on crowd sourced data like other online video apps as Vodio or 5by, but also uses an algorithm, that is supposed to select the most interesting 15 to 25 seconds out of each video. The videos you watch on Minute are thus no entire videos, but only snippets out of the whole. If you like a video, you swipe it to the right, if you do not, you swipe it to the left – a mechanism most are familiar with from the now so popular dating app Tinder. The users can play, pause, skip and share the videos and return to those they like the best in order to watch them completely. But here then comes an obvious question to mind: Why invest more time into watching the entire video when the most important and interesting part has already been told by the app?

Critics of new media technologies like the American journalist Nicholas Carr argue, that through the functionalities of the internet, we lose our ability to perceive information in depth and only skim content briefly (Maurer, 48). Another academic new media critic, Tara Brabazon, has collected evidence which according to her analysis, points towards a reduced attention span and ability to concentrate when ICT (information and communications technology) is intensely used. In summary, these critics state that the internet and communication technologies influence our cognitive abilities negatively (Maurer, 49). Considering this, Minute can be seen as just another symptom of an attention deficit disorder (ADD) society like the title of a blog article presenting the app already suggests:

Minute Is a Video Watching App For The ADD Generation“ (Butcher).

On the other hand, technical developments like Minute, are not necessarily a bad thing when looking at it from the perspective of Marshall McLuhan, a Canadian philosopher and one fo the originators of new media theories. For him, the changes brought about by new technologies are not a threat to our cognitive abilities, but rather an extension of our cognitive functions. Which means

“That […] electric media take over functions of information management, storage and retrieval normally performed by the central nervous system.” (Brey, 3).

New technologies should not be seen as something contradicting the human mind, endangering its functions, but as an extension of it, opening up new dimensions of cognition. One can argue that the changes in our cognitive abilities are no need to worry, as long as there are technologies compensating these deficits and we can ensure independent and critical thinking as well as a basic functioning in case technology fails (Maurer, 50).
Seen Minute as an extension of our cognitive function to select relevant and interesting content, the company’s statement appears very promising:

“Based in Tel Aviv, the company was founded with the aim of driving video engagement and making the online video consumption process both more efficient and enjoyable. Minute finds personalized and desirable content for users so that they can spend their time watching only the most engaging clips while also efficiently discovering a greater volume of content.”

 

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App Website: http://minute.ly

Brey, P. “Technology as Extension of Human Faculties.” Metaphysics, Epistemology, and Technology. Ed. Carl Mitcham. Jai, 2000. 19. Print.

Butcher, Mike. “Minute Is a Video Watching App For The ADD Generation.” TechCrunch. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Sept. 2015.

Hyman, Nicole. “Minute Brings Engaging Online Video to Those with ADD – and Got $4M in Funding.” Geektime. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Sept. 2015.

Maurer, Hermann. “Does the Internet Make Us Stupid?” Communications of the ACM 58.1 (2014): 48–51. CrossRef. Web.

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