Replicating Offline Experiences and Phenomena Online

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There are many products out there that have been able to infuse elements of offline experiences into their digital products. Whether it be an actual experience or just the emotions that surround it, these products tap into something that’s already happening in my life. It’s just downright cool.

On pretty much every roadtrip I’ve ever been on, there is a point where ipod djing ensues. Everyone in the car alternates picking a song. I anticipate what everyone else is going to play as well as their reaction to my choice. It’s fun and usually my favorite part of the car ride.
 provides the platform to emulate this experience sans the car and long drive. Not only can I replicate the act of picking songs, but I can even trash talk and quantify the listener’s reaction to my selection: two things that are essential to the offline experience.


Turntable took something awesome that we’re already doing and replicated the experience (and vital elements) within a digital product. Pretty cool stuff.


GoodKarma is a platform that facilitates supporting local non-profits amongst many other things. It has a social element baked in which allows you to see which non-profits your friends support.

On each charity page, there is timeline that displays how much people gave to that non-profit.


Last time I logged on, I saw my friend Shaila gave 370 Karma Points to RestoreNYCI immediately felt like I had to give atleast 370 points…or else I’d feel cheap.

The notion of “equal giving” is something I experience most Sundays at church. During every service, there is a period dedicated to tithing where offering buckets are passed around. There is always unspoken pressure to give at least as much as your friends do. In my heart of hearts, I know its not about equal giving, but equal sacrifice. Yet each week I can’t help but feel cheap if I don’t match my friend’s contributions.

The social transparency within GoodKarma taps into this same psychological phenomena. Regardless of my original plans, I feel compelled to practice equal giving once I’m aware of my friends contributions. No one wants to be the cheap guy!

Kindle Popular Highlights

When other people start taking notes in a learning environment I always feel compelled to do the same. The act of taking notes is an external signal from my classmates that they deemed something was important. Regardless of my own personal assessment, the fear of “missing something” often coerces me to do the same.

I’ve noticed the Kindle popular highlights has the same effect. If all these people think this important, it must be!


More so than I’d like to admit, the popular highlights signal prompts me to…well, mindlessly highlight. It taps into the same peer pressure and fabricated fear that I feel in the classroom. 

Replicating offline experiences online to some degree pervades all the applications we interact with. These are just a few products that have effectively done so in my own life. What are yours? Please share them in the comments!

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