Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The three minute AT&T invoice


The transition of media has always evoked equal parts fear, loathing, and excitement. The evolution of long narrative oral and lyric forms to the novel was considered vulgar to many ("Prose? Simply barbaric.") Silent movies, talkies, jazz, radio, television, violent video games, the web, rap and so on  – media and art forms spontaneously form, mutate, blend together, and fade to the background in a process that has accelerated to dizzy rates.
 
The latest twist? An email, with a detailed explanation from AT&T of an invoice for voice, internet and TV services . . . through a link to a personalized video.

In other words, a video invoice.
  
While video delivered via the internet is well over 15 years old, it really was made broadly accessible by the birth of YouTube on Valentine’s Day, 2005.  At first, web video was all about skateboard tricks, cute kittens, and a 4 minute lesson on the evolution of dance.

Telling stories, explaining concepts, getting elected, entertainment. Got it.

However, this detailed cinematic explanation of my father-in-law's monthly $100+ AT&T bill was the first I've seen. The video is just under three minutes, the traditional length of popular songs — coincidence? "Hey, play me that direct payment again, will ya?"

So is all this useful? Necessary? Don’t know.

A bit odd?

Yes.

Would have liked to be in the meeting when some brave soul suggested committing corporate resources and reputation to this media. But I’m not dismissing the effort – it may be wildly popular with AT&T customers and imitated by competitors.

Who knows? Maybe as media, technology and art forms evolve and mash-up, the result could be stories such as these :     

  • “LED searchlights draw spectators who 'crowdcontrol' color selection via smartphones”
  • “Drones selected by Ohio to administer capital punishment”
  • “Robots now primary creators of social media content.”
That is, if the robot writer's guild isn't above a little self-promotion.      

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