Computer Usage As A Spectator Sport

February 19th, 2015

Humans are wired to want to watch others: people-watching and learning-by-watching are basic instincts. But while using computers has previously been seen mainly as a personally-oriented, solitary activity, the phenomenon of people watching others use computers is exploding.

Last August, Amazon paid almost $1 billion to purchase Twitch, the website that lets 55 million people watch video streams of other people playing video games. In This is why people want to watch other people play video games, Rich McCormick of The Verge cites three main benefits for the spectators, which he calls, Buying Advice, Cult of Personality, and Watch & Learn. 

The next level is, which offers live streams of people programming their computers. TheNextWeb reports that Watching people code could be the next big thing in live streaming video and a subreddit asking What are some reasons for you to watch people code in live? provoked a litany of varied responses.

Another related, fascinating example of watching technology-as-a-spectator-activity is a public showing by composer Andrew Sorensen at The Open Source Convention, where he demonstrates how he produces his creative music algorithms.