Saturday, October 27, 2012

Say you want a revolution

I went to two talks this week. Both on similar subjects yet both very different in attitude and approach. The first was The Frontline’s talk on Cyber Snooping in partnership with BBC Arabic. The panel was well put together; consisting of a varied mix of people working at the forefront of technological and online governance in a range of capacities. Though proceedings occasionally took a turn for the paranoid, the general sentiment was that it was time to get real about the definition, legislation and regulation of online activity for individuals, corporations and governments on a global scale.

 In contrast, D&AD’s “Digital Revolution 2.0” event was, with a few minor exceptions, as worryingly backward as the title itself. Not only did I find myself wondering if 2.0 was just a way to make the proceedings feel more “Internet-y”, but, with references to Second Life and Star Trek, whether I had also somehow travelled back in time to 2004. Assuming, for a moment, that I had, then the event was right on the money. In the early noughties, technology had almost divested itself of its geeks-only image and started to go mainstream. The line between online and offline began to blur, and everyday life was changing dramatically as a consequence. It felt wondrous, magical and overwhelming. In 2004 we had no idea how it was all going to pan out or, to paraphrase Neville Brody in Wednesday’s opening remarks, how we as people might potentially interface and interact.

If I had been asked to present on Wednesday, which is unlikely since D&AD evidently find it unthinkable to have more than two women in a panel of six, I would have pointed out that this is 2012 and the Revolution has been and gone. Wikipedia (yes, no longer do I refer to my twelve volume encyclopedia) defines a post-Revolutionary state as one that has resulted in major changes in culture, economy and socio-political institutions. Could you argue that “Digital” has contributed to fundamental change in those areas already? Yes.

The Digital Revolution (let’s just drop the 2.0 shall we?) not only changed institutions, it instigated new ones. The human experience expanded from one existing entirely in the physical world, to one that now incorporates an ever-evolving online world. So much so that people like Birgitta Jónsdóttir, a panelist at the Frontline Club’s event, are not only championing civil rights in the context of the twenty-first century but actively pioneering things like a global freedom of information act and international codes of conduct.

D&AD stands to represent the global design, creative and advertising industries. In this privileged capacity, they ought not to be pontificating on “what it all means”. Getting up on stage and throwing around words like “instagram”, “fluid data” and “re-Renaissance” just add to the noise. Like their political counterparts, D&AD have a responsibility to leverage their name and their expertise to design the direction of digital culture in our changed, and still changing, world.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Playing hard to get

In today’s world, it’s fairly rare for us to miss a call, a text or a notification. We’re either at our desks (with our iPhones by our side) or eating (with our iPhones by our side) or on the late bus home (um, I think someone just stole my iPhone).

So, the likelihood of not being able to receive and respond to a message right away is getting slimmer and slimmer. Nevertheless certain codes of conduct prevail. Despite our ever increasing links to technology, we remain humans at heart. We still want to manage perception, look cool and be seen to be doing things “the right way”.

With this in mind, I’ve put together a little list of recommended response times for our favourite platforms.

Emails: Right away. Emailing is the new instant messaging. It shows that you are across multiple devices and totally on it. Always cc people, it doesn’t only keep you in the loop: you are the loop. The loop is nothing without you.

LinkedIn invitations: 3 to 4 days. Ideally at stupid o’clock on an early weeknight. This suggests that you are 24/7, going hard, taking names and killing it. ‘I Don’t Get Jet Lag’ is your middle name.

DMs: 20 mins. This says you are busy but accessible, in demand but in control, bright yet breezy. Leave it any longer and you might as well never reply. The moment has passed. Twitter - and you - have moved on. Get over it.

Instant Messages: 4-5 hours. See ‘Emails’. No one has time for IM-ing anymore. It’s not 2003 ffs. 

Facebook friend requests: Never. If you’re not already friends on Facebook, then it’s just another person in your life who doesn’t use Twitter.

Twitter follows: Follow back instantly. Within two hours you should have established GIF-based in-jokes, sent inappropriate DM’s and pretty much nailed down that #ff shout out.

Instagram comments: If it’s food related, 3 hours. Everything else, right away. Stay in the feed, yo.

Text Messages: Right away. If they’ve got your phone number, you probably know them in “real” life. It’s probably your Mum.

Actual face-to-face meetings: Plan months in advance, set a Google Calendar reminder to cancel twenty minutes before. Always keep ‘em wanting more.

Foursquare/ Find My Friends requests: Alert the police. Things just got weird.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

My kind of pop-up

Maybe it's just my Shoreditchite ennui at boring, regular, real-world pop-ups, but I'm kind of loving the idea of an "online pop up shop", as evidenced here by Ass Savers.

Just as a tweet is to a blog post, so this kind of e-commerce is to the likes of Amazon and ASOS. It's quick, it's of the moment, it's a fleeting thing. And, like a tweet, it relies entirely on fast-paced word of mouth to gain momentum and attract attention.

When Kickstarter firmly announced that it is "not a store", it nonetheless highlighted an emerging behavioural trend for how people want to shop, even if they can't. What Kickstarter's strategy revealed was that people love the thrill of discovering a product or service and then investing in it - both emotionally and financially - within a given time frame. An online pop-up like Ass Savers, however, offers that final hook -  the ability to purchase and that warm, glowy shopping high.

I look forward to watching this unfold as a trend, and smugly tweeting about the latest cool online pop-up. I just hope it involves gourmet burgers/flat whites/cocktails/nordic breakfasts/Opening Ceremony. Fingers crossed.