Learning from Gigaom Roadmap 2013
Day One of Gigaom Roadmap 2013 and this thing gets of to a fast start with a deep dive into the future of technology from the perspective experience design and consumer insight. It is a romp and meant to start the brain for the day but it also highlights some recurring themes in the conversation about technology. Instant energy from Robert Brunner.
The first theme is that technology is passing through its first phase, the phase when we are thrilled by it more than by what it does. All revolutions go through this I guess. Tearing down the old is exciting but eventually the new has to deliver practical benefits for ordinary people. We are there today. The sweet design values of Square are a million years ahead of even a bank note. The interview with Jack Dorsey revealed how in tune he is with how people want to interact with technology: they don’t. They want to interact with each other.
More evidence of the move beyond technology as a culture unto itself was presented by Robert Brunner of Ammunition, the guy behind the phenomenal design success called Beats by Dr Dre. His presentation was laced with an acerbic commentary about the cultural irrelevance of technology marketing. When technology becomes wearable it becomes fashion. All the young dudes wearing Google Glass in the audience squirmed.
Knobs rather than software sliders, Nest and robots that learn all added to a sense that this next phase is very human, very tangible and real. The days when the App was everything and click-throughs were an index of business possibility are ending. This is all good news for those of us who have been baffled and annoyed by technology marketers whose love of the word awesome and assumption that we are all interested in what they have to say, let alone what they have to make, desensitizes them to the sheer banality of technology marketing.
Nest founder Tony Fadell was the celebratory pragmatist. Execution is everything and the Nest success is because they sweat the detail and ship a great product. That requires tons of expertise and great processes. Like Jack Dorsey the attention to detail expends to marketing and both companies present a version of Silicon Valley Simplicity that sells well in a market crowded with badly designed complexity. As Erik Spiekermann noted, anyone can use Comic Sans, just please do it out of eyesight.
So, finally, the focus on beauty and the respect for humanity that technology marketers and future brand builders will have to pay attention to was on full display today. Spiekerman said it well: “Typeface design adds 3% to the feel of a word, but it is a 3% that makes reading more enjoyable and our world a little better.” That’s a vision. This is not “Design Thinking” it is the discipline of design delivered by people who passionately care.