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Our Innate Interest in NEW

I see what you did there
Catching up on an old Economist (yes, I still love magazines and happily subscribe to many) I came across a great article on counting.  

How do humans develop our sense of numbers? What faculties do babies start with, and how does it develop?  I learned that Babylonians used base 60 math, and that in the 1940’s a  German animal behaviorist named Otto Köhler trained ravens to open boxes with the same number of dots on the lid as a card held by the scientist. Animals dig numbers too.

But what  caught my attention was this beautiful nugget:

Babies are born with many ways of making sense of what they see and hear.  When shown the same things repeatedly, babies eyes wander; when the scene changes, their gaze return.

I already knew this was how they tested babies for measuring other responses.  I already knew this is how babies behave.  But this time it finally hit me:  NEW.  It’s all about NEW.

We are born with an innate interest in NEW.  Babies have it.  Adults have it.  We love the new.  NEW is a strong force.  

Even as infants, our eyes literally wander if we see something repeated too often.  That explains so many behaviors, and yet there’s still more we could do to scratch this itch.

Addicted to twitter?  You love the new. Deep into your feedreader? You love the new.  Can’t get enough of friendfeed or blogs or news sites?  Don’t worry, you’re normal.  You love the new.  

This week we rolled out some personalization features on our niche fanflows project. (Fanflows are premium, subscription-based assets: artists post stuff, fans subscribe. Fans get content, artist buys baby a new pair of shoes. )  Among the sorting features (newest, most comments, most views, etc), was a simple checkbox where you can click [x] New to Me.  We keep track of everything you’ve already read, so when you say New to Me, we show you just the new stuff.


I’ve always liked our New to Me feature.  Actually, I get over-excited every time I use it. Of course there’s no mystery to me in how it works, and we’ve had it in different incarnations for quite some time.  But I still get all giddy every time I use it.  

I thought I was reasonably up to date on Achewood Premium Updates, and Freezepop Premium, but when I clicked that little New to Me box and saw 30 “new” posts I hadn’t seen yet, something inside me bubbled up.  The system found the new for me, and I loved it.  

Now I know I’m not strange or crazy.  I just love NEW.  And being attracted to NEW is innate.   I feel better now, how about you?

P.S.  We’ve made some good progress on a free tool for blogs that will help give your readers that same, awesome feeling of NEW when they get to your site.  I think they should be able to click New and get New.  Since craving NEW is normal, we’re looking to help do this for more people in more places.


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