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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