I loved record stores. Well, really CD stores, that is actually what I was buying. But it wasn’t the satisfaction of walking out with a shiny disc of new music in my hand, for me, it was always the hunt.
In college, I always kept a handful of albums in my head that I wanted to own, but would never allow myself to buy new. I would wander the multiple record stores in my college town and flip through almost every CD in the used section. The rhythmic clacking of plastic was my own Zen meditation as I flipped from A to Z. And I was never disappointed to walk out of the store empty handed – because that meant my hunt would continue another day.
Now that hunt is obsolete in a world of streaming music and instant access to everything. And I miss it. I miss the effort that can make discovery so satisfying. The changes in the way we absorb media over the last decade is incredible. Everything is there for the taking (and purchasing) and now we never need to wait…or hunt. And I do love it so. But some days, I just miss the hunt. It is why I wandered into Sub Pop Records in Seattle a few years ago and emerged triumphantly with a five dollar copy of Beck’s “Odelay” – because I still could. (In fact, I’ve heard that iconic shop has since closed its brick-and-mortar side.)
So when thinking about online experiences, we clearly want it to be seamless and simple for the user. But I wonder how we can bring the hunt into that experience and provide people a sense of discovery and joy without making it difficult? These are questions I intend to ask myself when designing each new interactive experience. Maybe you might want to also do the same?