The Competitive Edge of Surprise

I'm a fan of Reno 911!, a show about a lovable but flawed group of misfit policepersons in Reno, Nevada.  A parody of shows like "Cops", what makes it intriguing is a lot of it is improvised.  Though there's many running jokes, this level of spontaneity adds a charm to the series, and makes it more human.

There are other forms of media "spontaneity."  The Random House/Stardoll deal that allows for people to vote on the outcome of a story for instance.  There is the unpredictability of reality shows – much as I'm not a fan of most of them – that appeals to people.  I've been addicted to both Borderlands and Dragon Quest IX – games with randomly generated content to keep the games fresh.

Such things got me thinking about spontaneity and unpredictability.  These are things you can't really fake in media – and these are traits people like in their media, be it books, or shows, and so forth.  We love having an unknown to explore, something that doesn't fit our expectations (yet does).  In short, in an age where there's so much competition for attention, can the media we produce be more competitive if it adds spontaneity and unpredictability?

I think so.

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