Philly Creative Guide

Here's the Thing

Bill Haley

Conspicuous Consumption on Blippy.com
by Bill Haley, 1 Mar 2010

Bill Haley is one of the founders of PhillyCreativeGuide.com. He is also President, Interactive of Allied Pixel (www.alliedpixel.com), an integrated media production firm specializing in the convergence of HD video, web and interactive media. He can be reached at [email protected].


So I'm on the homepage of this site that launched earlier this year. Every few seconds a new message pops up: jivinivan got 3 apps from iTunes, benpritchet rented 5 movies at Netflix, jrfields321 spent $5.22 at McDonald's. It is mesmerizing, maybe a little disturbing.

Conspicuous Consumption on Blippy.com

Blippy.com is a site that tracks people's spending. As members make credit card purchases, the purchase details appear on the site, in real time. You might wonder, as I did, why people would want to make their spending habits public. Philip Kaplan, one of the site's founders, says it's "To tell people – friends, acquaintances, maybe even strangers – a little bit more about you."

Conspicuous Consumption on Blippy.com

So far, the biggest purchase on Blippy has been $15,789, for an industrial freezer. The smallest is 3 cents, for a Tootsie Roll.

Conspicuous Consumption on Blippy.com

Blippy is a data-mining dream for marketing execs and economics professors.

Conspicuous Consumption on Blippy.com

You can follow people, just like on Twitter. There is a bit of a voyeuristic thrill at viewing the most intimate consumptive desires of total strangers.

Conspicuous Consumption on Blippy.com

You can also comment on purchases. "You could have got it cheaper at Walmart" or "That's my favorite movie of all time" or "You're going to be sorry... that app is lame."

Conspicuous Consumption on Blippy.com

We're living in an era of unbridled online exhibitionism. There is practically nothing that's off limits. My 22 year old cousin posted a racy photo of her girlfriend on Facebook. Her girlfriend commented "That photo is so inappropriate! My boobs don't even look good in that shot." She didn't ask, though, for it to be taken down. Kids today.

Conspicuous Consumption on Blippy.com

I was born 20 years too soon, obviously.

Conspicuous Consumption on Blippy.com

From a sociological perspective, we've arrived at a point where you can construct a pretty accurate composite of a person – even someone you've never met – by collecting data across multiple social networking sites.

Conspicuous Consumption on Blippy.com

And in a society where capitalism is king and box office tallies make the evening news, it was just a matter of time until Blippy came along.

Print Article Brought to you by: Bill Haley | President, Interactive of Allied Pixel