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Two recent work talks

First talk!

I visited the London office of a week last Friday and reprised Engaging Technology. The gags went down okay – something I’m always nervous about, especially with an end-of-the-working-week audience – and I made a few small changes, mainly to focus the Acts Not Facts slide on interactive agency work. I said:

When I buy a holiday, Expedia makes it feel like I’m engaging with tedious bureaucracy. My ringing phone embarrasses me when it rings on a train or in the cinema. But when I purchase something, that’s not just a cold fact… it’s the first time a product and I engage, and if the purchasing experience is lousy then the brand is damaged. […] And when I’ve talked to advertising planners and folks working in brand communication in the last few months, they’ve all told me that the days you want a product in your life because that product is “cool” or “reassuring” or has a particular lifestyle, whatever the fact… those days are gone. It’s all about the acts instead. What’s it like to purchase? To show off to friends? To sell? To clean? To run in? What are the stories? How do I engage with it, and how does it engage with me?

I keep meaning to post more about how to design for intrinsic activities. Remind me.

Second talk!

This Saturday, I spoke at an away-day for the folks behind BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight (my slides aren’t online). It was rather disconcerting to see the faces of voices with which I’m extremely familiar–I catch the programme almost every weeknight. I was speaking about the leading edge of media consumption, especially new media, covering old and new media channels (giving some demos–I think hands-on is important in understanding threats and opportunities), social media, citizen journalism, and a little trend speculation on where people will be spending their time in coming years:

Virtual worlds such as Second Life and the creative renaissance evident in Make magazine and more (the example I gave was Instructibles, where the empowerment of creation from the internet has come together with the loosely-coupled collaborative ethos)… both of these feel as energetic and full of potential as blogging did in 1999.

Thanks, too, to Dan Hill and Suw Charman, who were both generous with their help when I was putting together the talk.

I wanted to mention, here, how I concluded the presentation. I’d begun by stating that while technology changes, people mostly don’t. At the end I highlighted one social change that, from my perspective, looks as if it might be taking place:

Far from being an antisocial medium, the internet is enormously social. We in this room are media literate, from being surrounded by tv, cinema, radio, magazines, adverts… People growing up online are surrounded by people, and are socially literate. They’re fully in-tune with small-p politics. Interpersonal politics. Social politics. Sometimes it shows as a lack of respect, because they know how people work and aren’t willing to think that some people are special, just because they have authority. They understand that people are just people. […] There is a small-p political literacy that comes from continually socialising. It manifests both as people forming communities online, and as a lack of respect for big media that means media needs to personalise, and meet people in their communities as peers.

Highly speculative, of course! I also touched, briefly, on social capital.

It’s been a while since I felt like I was banging the drum for the internet. But being online is a large component of most of my friendships, and a lot of those friends I wouldn’t have if it weren’t for the net. Often people who have purely utilitarian use of the internet don’t see that.

I find it enormously heartening that there’s a general intelligence, online, about how people work in groups, gleaned from folks living on mailing lists, making stuff together, and chatting. I wanted to get that across.

2 Comments and Trackbacks

  • 1. tom a said on 17 October 2006...

    What’s it like to purchase? To show off to friends? To sell? To clean? To run in? What are the stories? How do I engage with it, and how does it engage with me?

    Reminds me of Jeff Veen’s presentation at dconstruct [PDF, about 7mb]; early on in there are some slides documenting an email conversation he had with customer support about a website. He used it to point out that user experience isn’t just the website, it’s everything around it as well – the customer support, the delivery. What you call engagement. It’s an entertaining series of slides, if only for how woefully bad it is.

    (It’s one of my favourite things about MOO; all the automated emails are written in the first person by a machine, which is not only cute, but also means you never think once about clicking “reply”, because it’s explicit that it’s a computer talking. I really liked that).

  • 2. Mark said on 18 October 2006... really enjoyed your visit, Matt. It was one of the best talks we’ve had in a while, very stimulating. Thanks!

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