Kobo Writing Life Podcast – Episode 059 – Tom Vanderbilt

Nathan Maharaj, Kobo’s Director of Merchandising, interviews Tom Vanderbilt, the best-selling author of Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do, about his latest book You May Also Like: Taste in an Age of Endless Choice which is an interesting exploration of our personal tastes and what it says about us.

 

During the interview, Nathan and Tom discuss:

  • The role that red pants came to play in Tom’s book when he was living in Madrid and how that relates to the “mere exposure” effect
  • The role of context in how we experience things
  • The language element involved in a dining experience (and a callout to Dan Jurafsy’s book The Language of Food: A Linguist Reads the Menu
  • The effect by which the guided “headphone” tour through an art museum can alter the user’s experience within a gallery, including the cognitive tunneling that can occur
  • A unique book that was created with a built in camera and facial recognition software entitled The Cover That Judges You that was designed to only open if the person looking at the cover displayed a completely neutral face.
  • The effect on social liking and music, musical tastes, how the long tail got longer and how popularity has gotten more hierarchical rather than less so
  • The phenomenon of “guilty pleasures” and the difference between guilt and shame
  • How taste can be a more taboo subject than sex or money
  • The idea of not trusting the “easy like”
  • The interesting juxtaposition between “freedom of choice” and “freedom from choice”

 

KWL Director Mark Lefebvre then speaks about the concept of reviews and refers to something Tom mentioned in the interview regarding how both five star and one star reviews are sometimes interpreted by consumers and the importance of having a wide spread of reviews to make the product reviews seem more “natural”.

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OTHER LINKS OF INTEREST:

Tom Vanderbilt’s website

Tom Vanderbilt on Twitter

 

If you enjoy this podcast and would like to automatically download episodes as they go live – even before the show notes are posted to the Kobo Writing Life blog – subscribe to the RSS feed via your favourite pod-capturing platform (such as iTunes) using this link: RSS feed for Kobo Writing Life Podcast.

One comment

  • I love your podcasts, except for one thing. The audio of the interviews is usually low volume and rather murky. So I turn the volume up until I can understand the speakers. Finally I get it high enough and everything is fine and I’m driving along happily listening to the podcast. Then we hit the end of the podcast or a break in the middle and THUMPA-THUMPA-BZZZZZZOW! the theme music blasts out at full volume and I swerve into oncoming traffic.

    Please consider doing one or more of the following:
    -Improve the audio quality of your interviews.
    -Turn down the volume of the intro and theme music so it matches the volume of the rest of your podcast.

    I thank you. My eardrums thank you. Drivers who have to share the road with me thank you.

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