“We used to have dialogue, now we have communication”
I heard a really interesting BoBreakfast talk today from Wojtek Kutyla, who describes himself as a “UX/Service Design Consultant’. His topic was based around how as designers, we have an opportunity to address the ever-increasing onslaught of data and ‘stuff’, pushed out at break-neck speed, often ill-conceived, poorly thought-through and rushed in execution.
He gave examples of advising clients, who had come to him and enthusiastically outlined a brief for some new ‘start-up’ business idea, app or website. After analysis, he advised that in fact there was no market for it, and that ultimately they should focus their efforts, time and money elsewhere. Bold, I know, but he backed it up with some great examples of how we are now creating needs we never had previously. “Before Twitter, did we go around nailing pictures of what we had for breakfast to trees, just to keep everyone informed?” He highlighted that the energy to upload to the cloud a picture containing 100bytes of data, which is very little, uses the same amount of energy that a Macbook Pro consumes running 24 hours a day for a month. What on earth are we doing to society and the planet?
Not so ‘smart’ phone
The conversation turned to the smartphone. It is driving more and more of our everyday decisions and behaviours. Bear in mind that this device didn’t exist 15 years ago . . . but it has now become so critical to many businesses that it has become the main point of delivery of their message and engagement with their customers. Families will sit together in a restaurant but each member will have their mobile on the table and their attention will be elsewhere.
As Wojtek put it, “We used to have dialogue, now we have communication”. We now have generations emerging where eye contact is avoided; where actually giving 100% attention to any one thing or person for more than a few seconds has become unusual and ‘unnatural’ rather than culturally the norm. I can imagine a future where someone comes up with the amazing idea of social spaces where there is no digital communication. Here, the ‘novelty’ will be interacting in the ‘old-fashioned’ way, using just our own eyes, ears, noses, mouths, bodies, gestures . . . Why not? Vinyl came back after we had all dumped our collections for the digital future. Remember, you read it here first . . . . electronically!