Why The Future Of Technology Is Simplicity

Posted on January 21, 2010. Filed under: Mobile Technology, Trends | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Do you enjoy trendspotting?

I sure do.

Hence those two recent blog posts: Communications Trends For 2010, Part 1 and Part 2.

It’s time to move on to other topics. But before doing so, I wanted to share one more thought about what’s next.

People who are not technologically inclined will determine the future of technology

This golden nugget was mined during a conversation with Avi Joseph. I was gathering fodder for Communications Trends For 2010 (Part 1). We were discussing how social mobile web applications — geo-tagging, for example — will become more prominent in the coming year. Avi offered this intriguing idea, which really got me thinking:

“If you want to imagine more, just ask a friend who is not so technical what they would like to see in a mobile phone, and like that, you will see the future. When you ask me, it’s not so accurate because we [you and I] are technologic people. What we are using my younger brother is not using… It’s better to ask him, ‘What would you like included in a phone that you don’t have today?’… You need to ask regular people.”

Avi asserted the future of mobile lies in the ability to make its technology easier to use. “People see all the icons and they are afraid. They wonder, ‘If I click on that what will happen?’ ”

It’s not how cool the tool is, but how easy it is to use

I admittedly had my doubts about that last one. I recently got an iPhone and was happy to poke around to discover all the neat stuff it could do.

Then I was enjoying dinner with a friend and mentioned my shiny new gadget. My friend asked to see the iPhone, and when I handed it to him a look of intimidation flashed across his face. Right away, he wondered out loud, “Wow, what are all these buttons for?”

My friend — who happens to be a child of the ‘60s, as we are so-called — uses a computer on a daily basis. He does Facebook, too; so the guy’s not a total technophobe. Still, the iPhone’s interface struck him as daunting.

This incident reminds me of Clay Shirky’s comment about how “technology only becomes socially interesting when it becomes technologically boring.” The idea being, it’s not how cool a tool is that determines whether it permeates society, but rather how simple that tool is to use.

Simple is in the eye of the beholder

On the other hand, I was chatting with my brother the other day and he mentioned his five year-old son was playing music on an iPod touch.

Ah kids, they do grow up digital these days.

– Deni Kasrel

Do you agree that the future of technology lies in simplicity? Or is it something else? Please share your thoughts. Comments welcome.

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Communications Trends For 2010 (Part 2)

Posted on January 19, 2010. Filed under: Communications Strategy, Trends | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

January is prime time for crystal ball gazing. You know, looking into the future.

And while we can’t predict all that’s yet to come, we can expect exciting times ahead.

My previous post, Communications Trends For 2010 (Part 1), featured forecasts from several individuals whose ideas and opinions I greatly admire. They’re all deep thinkers who understand communications on many different levels.

A couple other pals were kind enough to offer their two-cents regarding where communications are headed in the coming year, and because these seers sent in lengthier responses, they warrant a separate post.

Here it is, part two of Communications Trends For 2010:

On social media, mobile technology and transparency

From: Jason Spector, a creative and crowdsourcing consultant standing at the crossroads of user experience, community, design and social media. Blog: Jason Spector. Twitter @JasonSpector

Dashboard tools accelerate social media usage

“We’re going to see a more seamless integration of the various communication channels. Going forward, I see a standard communication tool like email or social dashboard providing much of this information pulling from the various sites, like a social/communication profile dashboard. Web clients will probably come first followed by desktop apps. This will lead to a wider acceptance and usage of social media overall.”

Social media permeates the business space

“Businesses of all sizes will get serious about social media. Companies that are still ignoring it are going to be driven into it or truly left behind. Companies that are already involved with it are going to dedicate resources, plan for it and attach an ROI. It’s going to become a major part of marketing and customer engagement initiatives (if they’re not already) and not as much of a secondary effort.”

Mobile plays a much bigger role

“This is an obvious one, but I think the software and hardware of upcoming mobile devices will focus even more on communications, such as AR [augmented reality], gaming, photo, video, file viewing/sharing, conferencing and collaboration. Businesses are also going to focus more on mobile as a viable interactive device for their branding and marketing, such as virtual promotions.”

Transparency is no longer optional

“Consumers are going to demand more transparency from the companies they engage with. They have a huge amount of tools at their fingertips to learn about a company, talk about them and communication with them. It’s no longer just user reviews on sites. Social tools allow for instant support or criticism. The businesses that are honest and open will be accepted (and promoted) while ones perceived as “hiding something” will be seen negatively whether it’s true or not.”

Real-time, Twitter and the ideal integrity profile

From: Autom Tagsa, business communicator, web marketer, corporate specialist and pensive technophile. Blog: autom8. Twitter @autom8

The push for real-time will add complexity but drive other opportunities

“We’ve seen this wave engulf the online stream throughout the latter half of this year. As Google, Microsoft and other major players fiercely compete to secure market share in real-time search, it leaves one wondering just how this flurry of immediacy impacts the day-to-day user: How are they expected to (a) understand/appreciate the technological advancement, and, if they don’t care, how are they (b) expected to effectively filter the barrage of information. Also, as other leading start ups introduce more sophisticated tools that aim to better monetize online ads in real-time, this may well create opportunities that the online advertising industry sorely needs.”

Twitter’s broader penetration will bring us to the next level

“Twitter-r-us. Need I say more? I have long postulated that Twitter will be the driving force that reshapes certain existing and traditional forms of communications. Beyond democratization and paving level playing fields, it is fast becoming a recognized, universal channel (not necessarily for accurate nor meaningful info) but nonetheless ‘the go-to channel’. I’ve already seen ‘follow me on twitter’ embedded as a standard icon on many a communicator’s or company’s online vehicle. Why not on press releases, biz cards, signs, ads, etc. — “follow me” is the new calling card. As I have said many times before ‘Twitter is the iconic face of social media so it’s certainly become prime time and will be more so in 2010 as it begins to penetrate the business environment with upcoming biz-oriented tools.”

Synthesis of the corporate and personal brand will be a market differentiator

“What’s become apparent this year is how loud and clear we all heard chatter surrounding integrity, transparency and one’s corporate or organizational face online. Many struggle to reconcile with the notion of personal brand versus corporate brand, ghost writing/tweeting, etc. as discussions surrounding both ethical and best practice implications begin to colour what we perceive as effective communication versus credible communication and why the “ideal integrity profile” really ought to embody both aspects.

The ones who will secure a trusted following and an attentive audience are those who are able to successfully meld their personal brand with their corporate identity. It will give them a kind of passionate voice behind a stoic product or service. This is purely a visceral interpretation on my part but I think it merits closer attention. We’ll see more and more of that synthesis happening.”

And in conclusion…

All that sure gives us plenty to ponder, eh? Jason and Autom, thanks so much for your two-cents; although I really think your thoughts are worth a lot more.

And readers, follow these gents on Twitter to keep up with what’s on their minds in real-time.

– Deni Kasrel

What do you think of Jason and Autom’s trend predictions for 2010? Have some of ideas your own? Please share. Comments welcome.

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Does Online Communication Lead To Offline Isolation?

Posted on November 11, 2009. Filed under: Commentary, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Figure in shadow (Big Stock Photo)Recently, while at a networking event, talk turned to whether social media and other means of online messaging actually makes us antisocial. That is, if we are so busy Tweeting, Facebooking, text messaging, and otherwise communicating through technology, are we then less eager to converse in person?

Does our ability to instantly send photos and videos to friends mean we are less likely to visit them in real life? Are Facebook family reunions in our future?

New technology, same old debate

The notion that technology leads to antisocial behavior is hardly new. It heated up when the internet and email caught fire. The same speculation happened when the telephone picked up in popularity — we didn’t have to visit our neighbors, or anyone else for that matter, to talk to them anymore; we could just give ‘em a ring.

The rise of social media — where a network aspect encourages a sense of community– intensifies the debate. We can feel as though we are all together even though we are all apart. We enjoy exchanges with friends and followers whom we never meet in person. Ever.

Does technology lead to social isolation?

Does our propensity to connect through technology imply we are more isolated as individuals?

According to a new study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, the answer is no. Released last week, this report, titled Social Isolation and New Technology, notes:

“Today, the number of Americans who are truly isolated is no different, or at most is only slightly higher than what it was 30 years ago. Few people have no one with whom they can discuss important matters, and even fewer have no one who is especially significant in their lives. The more pronounced social change, since 1985, has occurred in the size and diversity of Americans’ core networks.”

Social media and diversity

Following up on that last sentence is where it really gets interesting. The study concludes that overall, the number and diversity of people with whom we discuss and confide important matters is declining. However, the opposite is true of those who socialize through technology. The study found:

  • People who upload and share photos online are 61% more likely to have discussion partners that cross political lines.
  • Frequent at-home internet users are 53% more likely to have a confidant of a different race.
  • The diversity of core networks tends to be 25% larger for mobile phone users and 15% larger for internet users.

Online we are more color-blind than in real-life. Perhaps having distance between one another makes us more tolerant of our differences.

Correlation between online communication and in-person interaction

As for the notion that communicating through technology leads to lower face-to-face social contact, the study indicates it ain’t necessarily so. Findings include:

  • Internet and mobile phone users are as likely as non-users to talk to their neighbors in-person at least once per month.
  • Internet users are 26% less likely to rely on their neighbors for help with small services, such as household chores, repairs, and lending tools, but they remain as likely to help their neighbors with the same activities.
  • Owners of a mobile phone, frequent internet users at work, and bloggers are more likely to belong to a local voluntary group, such as a neighborhood association, sports league, youth group, church, or social club.

Online community forums make us even more neighborly:

  • 60% of those who use an online neighborhood discussion forum know “all or most” of their neighbors, compared to 40% of Americans.
  • 79% who use an online neighborhood discussion forum talk with neighbors in person at least once a month, compared to 61% of the general population.
  • 43% of those on a neighborhood discussion forum talk to neighbors on the telephone at least once a month, compared to the average of 25%.

It really is social media

Technology is not a bogeyman turning us into isolated shut-ins. On the contrary, communication via the internet, cell phones and social media encourages in-person interaction. And it may make us more tolerant of our individual differences.

In other words, it really does make us more social.

– Deni Kasrel

What do YOU think of the Pew report on Social Isolation and New Technology? Do the findings surprise or confirm your own opinion on the topic? Comments welcome.

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