Saturday, June 28, 2008

Mental Tipping Points

Occasionally I take special notice my own mental processes, especially those that involve "tipping points." It sometimes feels as if there are multiple parties in there (something like the "agents" of Minsky's "society of mind" theory), discussing things "behind my back," and when a consensus is reached, I then become aware of it. For most things the whole process is literally subconscious and not especially noteworthy - I decide to pick up milk on the way home and change my route to do this. Why did I remember we need milk just then? I don't know - some part of my brain is keeping track of these things I suppose.

But I actually noticed the process in two recent cases. I got the new Paste Magazine CD, and among many tracks was one called "Hologram" by Katie Herzig (you can hear it here). I noticed this "optical" title and listened to the song, which seemed just OK. But the next time it came up in shuffle on my iPod (listening to a recent songs folder), I noticed the line "I'm in the habit of having what I don't want," and for some reason, I really liked that line. So I listened a few more times, and now I really like this song a lot. It may be simple infatuation but it was clear that noticing that line was a tipping point that pushed it into the "cool song" category. Katie Herzig is new to me, BTW, and she seems to be a very interesting singer/songwriter. I just bought one of her earlier songs, "Fools Gold."

Today I got an email from Amazon, announcing that they have dropped the price of their Kindle ebook reader from $399 to $359. I read a lot of books and other materials and I read and wrote about this new "eyePod" last November when it first came out. The reviews are quite strong (4 star average, many 5 star "I love my Kindle" reviews), but there are also some who say "it's good but not great, wait for the 2.0 version," and that's what I was doing. I've seen this happen with the iPod, and I waited for the third generation to buy one.

Is a $50 drop enough to buy my love? It came very close but fell short of the tipping point today - I'm guessing there will be a Kindle 2.0 this fall. So I will wait. Unless there is a rogue agent in there who will steer my hand to the "buy with one click" button later today.

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