Saturday, November 22, 2014

Food Porn

Many of my friends on Facebook frequently indulge in food porn.  When they have an interesting eating experience, whether something they have cooked, invented, or ordered in a restaurant, they post a photo and talk about it.  Not extensively, but enough to exhibit and share their indulgence.  I am sure there are a variety of motivations underlying this behavior.  It is something new to the world, since it really wasn’t feasible until easy/quick/cheap photography through smart phones and easy/quick/sharing through social media channels because prevalent. 

But I want to bring up another issue.  The user experience designed into much of the food porn that I see.  It seems that people who post food porn consider the photo to be the central feature of the post.  That makes sense because photos take advantage of the most visceral aspect of human experience – vision.  Visual experience is the simplest way to evoke emotional connection.  This is particularly true through the Internet when odor and taste are not feasible, at least until we have better smell-o-vision or taste-o-vision.  And because our visual experience is so rich, it easily activates the associated smells and tastes of the food in the photo. 

Except that is precisely the reason I question this food porn.  Many of the photos do not really capture the nuance of the food that excited the poster to share it.  It just looks like a bowl of soup or a stew or a cake or a . . . .   It is really the information in the text description that matters.  But these often fall down on the job. It is just a recipe or a very generic description – working on the mistaken assumption that the photo will do it.

I don’t engage in food porn largely for this reason.  The other day I made the most amazing skirt steak with a Dijon horseradish mustard sauce and freshly cracked ground pepper.  But looking at it, it just looked like a steak.  So a photo wouldn’t do it.  And most people following my Facebook or Twitter feeds would see the photo and just skim the text, if even that.  They would not be able to appreciate the great experience of my steak.  So why waste their time posting it? 

What is the solution?  Food porn is clearly an experience that has sizable demand behind it.  But the current version is inadequate.  Any ideas to improve it?

This Week in EID - Episode 30

For those of you who don’t know how the EID site is managed, I write the pieces and Keith manages the backend by formatting, scheduling, cueing, and maintaining our metadata.  We share the responsibility for content marketing.  He wants to focus more on the content marketing piece, so we are looking for something to replace his back end duties.  We are putting together the official job description, but if you are interested in human factors, ergonomics, product design, user experience, cognitive and behavioral psychology, and so on, let us know and we would be happy to consider you for the position.

I also wanted to mention that Keith does the scheduling because it was up to him which topic to schedule for my birthday last week. He didn’t know it was my birthday, so it wasn’t skewed by that knowledge.  My favorite topic of the week came out on Monday, when we had the post on immersive play in education.  The day before my birthday.  Doh !!! 

Then on Tuesday, we had a topic that I have done considerable research and consulting, innovations in reputation management.  So I guess I can’t complain.

On Wednesday we had my official article on media literacy, following from my ranting post on this blog the week before.  That was also a really good topic.  Well, a really bad topic because the general consumer has such lame media literacy.  But a good topic for the site.

Then the last day of the week was the post on Boston Attention Learning Lab.  They are doing some ground breaking work in another domain that I really love – augmented cognition.  If you have trouble focusing, take a gander at what they are working on.  It is still early, but who knows.