(Running notes from LiftAsia08, in Jeju, Korea. I am moderating this session, so only partial blogging.)
Jan Chipchase, designer and researcher and anthropologist for Nokia Design, opens the session talking about his work studying how people use technology and how they're influenced by it. Running notes.
More and more of what we use in daily life becomes pocketable, you carry it in pockets and bags.
Pocketable is a step towards technology becoming invisible: we are going to not see alot of technology; not invisible in the sense that it's disappearing into the infrastructure, but in the sense that you will be using it without other people noticing or knowing that you're using it.
When you have objects in people pockets that have similar functionalities, you're gonna see alot of serial solitary interaction (two people watching the same video each on his cell phone, one beside the other, for instance).
There is alot of buzz about sharing -- about YouTube, MySpace, etc. Sharing is inherently human, is generally socially positive, but when you adopt that technology it can raise a question of whether you're opting out of society.
In an era of mass production, tech is getting into people's hands at a younger and younger age: the distance between their social norms and ours (adults) is widening.
Christian Lindholm (wireless guru from Finland) asks: what do digital nomads tell us about the future? Defining mobility: contextual variables; ergonomic variables; physical variables:
The product-maker has to create beauty. What is beauty? Roman architect Vitruvius in 30 BC said: A structure must exhibit firmitas (solid, rugged), utilitas (utility) and venustas (beauty). Another architect, Leon Battista Alberti, defined beauty in 1435: "The adjustment of all parts proportionally, so that one can not add, subtract or change without impairing the harmony of the whole". But you also have to have "oréos", the greek word for "beauty of one's hour", timely beauty.
The Apple iPhone is beautiful, but it really still feels like a prototype.
To see the future, look at the present. We interviewed a group of "elite nomads", the bleeding edge of global travelling users. Here some of the findings:
- Data-roaming costs stifle demand; people downgrade to pure voice; they carry several prepaid SIM cards. Reliable Internet connection is like a shade under a palmtree for these digital nomads, it's comfort. Coffee, wi-fi and friends is an invaluable combination for these digital nomads.
- Battery life is a constant worry for them. Battery life is the number 1 enemy of convergence: basically everything already works, except that all-in-one runs out of batteries. Power is the digital water. People go to ridiculous length to find the power. What I see more and more is digital divergence -- a phone AND an iPod, separate devices -- and the main reason for this is to two batteries, so that you don't run out of juice in either (for the same reason many Blackberry users have also a cell phone: in order not to run out of battery in either calls or e-mail). My favorite mobile gizmo from Nokia from the last few years is the USB charger (Apple iPods also have one).
- Laptops are the only one that are qualified as "tools" by these leading digital nomads; the phone is a read-only device. All the nomads were carrying laptops, and many had also Blackberries and phones and other devices.
- This year is the year of bad touch screens (BG: picture of the iPhone behind the speaker). The reason why Apple is so phenomenal is because they have their own screen technology. But the natural evolution of the iPhone is a small sliding QWERTY keyboard. (BG: totally, totally agree: the iPhone will never become a business tool until the keyboard is there).
- The Internet builds a base for stronger ties when meeting physically.
Takeshi Natsuno, the father of the first, functioning, successful, large-scale wireless internet system, Japan's i-Mode (there is a whole chapter about it in my book "Roam") also spoke in this session. Unfortunately no time to take notes on his speech.