Don’t back down

Catch 22 – Social Interaction Technology

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Mobile technologies restrict real human social interaction. It’s a known fact, rarely studied, the boffins are getting there, but we all know it, no need for $m studies…

Mobile technologies open up human interaction, it’s a fact… The more advancements there are, the more users shun real physical interaction… Catch 22.

Mobile technologies have also opened up new communication channels. In fact ‘opened up’ is an understatement, unprecedented unimaginable worldwide explosion would come close to a description. Young people in the developed world are super-connected, like never known before. They can connect with anyone worldwide, at minimal cost. In fact, cost is not even an issue.

They can Google, Bebo, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter each other. Crime is even YouTubed, everything is digital, information is king… notoriety is king.

Having spent many years in the video gaming industry, one rule remained hard and true – gameplay is king. It doesn’t matter how mathematical your programmers, how artistic your 3D artists, how talented your level designers… a shit game with groundbreaking graphics, 250 individual sound recordings, stunning cut-to-video footage… is still shit. Play Tetris, it’s a good game, the rest doesn’t matter. Gameplay is king.

Does this apply to social networking, or, more pertinently, social technology??

Well, yes and no. Different rules apply. Human interaction isn’t a game, it’s life. There is a big difference.

Companies want eyes on phones. The more squinty pupils that focus on the little QCIF, QVGA or wide open widescreen touch sensitive screens, the more the companies marketing directors eyes open… they see revenue. Eyes + advertising = $. They all want a slice of the cake, but is this wrong; hell, this is wrong.

A good lesson can be learned from the current Wall Street grab-ever-penny-from-people-who-can’t-afford-it scenario. Advertising was borne out of an opportunity from realising eyes were watching. Now the moneymakers are trying to reverse engineer the time-honoured process. They think ‘What can we provide to consumers that will make them watch ads?’. It’s a doomed plan. Yes, they’ll grab some revenue, but ultimately it will fizzle out, and they’ll move on to the next short-lifespan money-grabbing scheme.

I always try to avoid saying the ‘a’ word, but in this case, I can’t avoid it. Apple is a shining example of the opposite of the above; they think of the consumer first, money will follow later. Please don’t label me as an Apple fanboy, I ain’t. Yes, I use their products, but that’s because they work (most of the time). Yes, their bottom line is cash, but they go about it in the time-honoured tradition, they don’t try to reverse the natural order of things.

A quality product will prevail, cash will follow. The problem is that there are 100 money grabbing schemes to every Apple-like business plan. The ‘100’ have good products, they do their job and pull eyes. The industry should consider the human interaction side of their action. We need products to mentally connect with consumers, we need real interaction, real life enhancing products.

Gameplay is king? In gaming, yes. In the world of social technology, Human Interaction is king.

Written by rufdog

February 12, 2009 at 4:00 pm

Posted in Design

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