Damn! I Wish I Could Remember that Joke!

Douglas Rushkoff has written a new book called “Back in the Box: innovation from the inside out,” and it includes this sage observation.

“Observe yourself the next time you’re listening to a joke. You may start by listening to the joke for the humor – because you really want the belly laugh at the end. But chances are, a few sentences in, you will find yourself not only listening, but attempting to remember its whole sequence. You’ll do this tentatively at first, until you’ve decided whether or not it’s really a good joke. And if it is, you’ll commit the entire thing to memory – maybe even with a personalized variation, or a mental note to yourself to fix that racist part. This is because the joke is a gift – it’s a form of social currency that you’ll be able to take with you to the next party.

So is the great majority of the media we watch and even the products we buy. HBO understood this well enough to base an entire season’s advertising campaign on the “water cooler” effect. In a series of fake ads, the water cooler industry thanks HBO for giving workers something to talk about the next day at the water cooler. The message of these ads was clear: watch these shows to gain social currency.”