Refractive Heuristics, Or; Why SoaP Failed to Launch

So after all the hype Snakes on a Plane enjoyed a tepid opening weekend. Number one in the box office, mind you, but far less than expected, leading the president of theatrical distribution for New Line Cinema to comment on the performance: “Now we just have to sit back and figure out how to take the lessons from it.”

Here’s the lesson: the opening performance of SoaP has been a dramatic vindication of an important business law. The foregone conclusion that the movie would soar has been a result of what scientists call “refractive heuristics.” As defined to laypeople like ourselves, this is a dynamic whereby people who share and gather information in one dominant media format—such as the Internet—tend to believe that all things related to said media are more important than others, all things being equal.

To wit: the vast majority of business posts on the web concern themselves with web-related business topics, such as marketing, buzz marketing, small-world buzzy word-of-mouth marketing buzz, and the like. Conclusion: not only is most business conversation on the web mostly about the web; the tenor of this talk also displays a certain awe, a belief that, come world 2.0, marketing will be the dominant business function and will in turn be dominated by the Internet. Thus, the would-be SoaP lessons aren’t limited to ephemeral cultural scraps sold to ADD-addled mid-teenage boys: they are the new power laws for the ages.

But I am not doing justice to the theory here. If you want more proven scientific data on refractive heuristics, please go look it up on wikipedia. I’ll be adding an entry about this discipline sometime soon.

Posted by tom at August 21, 2006 12:27 PM
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