Unproductive Technology

A great article in the New York Times called Lost in E-Mail, Tech Firms Face Self-Made Beast poses an interesting question – are the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused?

RescueTime, an computer habits research company, conducted a study and found that a typical information worker who sits at a computer all day turns to his e-mail program more than 50 times and uses instant messaging 77 times. The study also found that on average the worker also stops at 40 Web sites over the course of the day.

Perhaps the area of greater concern is the financial impact of distractive technology in the workplace. According to Basex, a management science research group, in the United States more than $650 billion a year in productivity is lost because of unnecessary interruptions. The firm says that a big chunk of that cost comes from the time it takes people to recover from an interruption and get back to work.

According to John Tang, a researcher at IBM, the challenge today lies to finding ways to prevent software tools from distractions in the workplace.




Ugliness Does Not Sell, Or Does It?

Raymond Loewy was known for being one of the best industrial designers of the 20th century. After a brief period working in fashion styling and illustration, Loewy transitioned to the barely conceived field of industrial design where he quickly established himself as a natural expert on design, sociology, and strategy.

In the book, Industrial Design, Loewy said that “Success finally came when we were able to convince some creative men that good appearance was a salable commodity, that it often cut costs, enhanced a product’s prestige, raised corporate profits, benefited the customer and increased employment.”

Ugliness Does Not Sell was the title of a book published by Loewly, a man who was touted as being the Father of Industrial Design. Could a man who designed products and experiences put form before function?Continue reading

Uniting The Global Village Through Film

Can short films change paradigms and birth a global acceptance of diversity and peace?

Jehane Noujaim, an award winning filmmaker, had a dream: to see a global acceptance of diversity, mediated through the power of film.

In 2006, Jehane was awarded the TED Prize, which granted her wish to change the world. Together, Jehane, along with fellow members of the TED community, conceived Pangea Day – a global event bringing the world together through film. Pangea was chosen because it is the name of the super-continent that broke apart 200 million years ago to form the present continents.

On May 10, six events will be linked via satellite to produce a program of live events, speakers, and 24 short films selected from more than 2,500 submissions. The films were selected based on their ability to transform, inspire, and shift our paradigms to create new perspectives on global causes that affect us all.

The hope is that Pangea will create a global movement focused on heightened awareness, empathy, compassion, and peace on a global level. After Pangea Day, there are plans to launch a series of community building activities to help provide people with outlets for change.

I’ve been following Pangea Day since I learned about it through the TEDConference last summer. Can film birth a global acceptance of diversity and peace? It remains to be seen. But I do believe that no other medium is more suited to deliver a global message that will speak to all cultures.

The currency of today is about ideas and experience. Experience transcends all barriers that a culture can have, whether language, distance, or time. Experience is the only language that unites us all because it is the only language that resonates with the human spirit.

The New Sweet Spot: Portals & Programming

What’s recession proof today? For the Food Network – it appears as though they’ve hit the recipe for success. In the midst of an economic crunch – people are eating out less and cooking up their own cheap chic dinners.

In January, the Food Network saw a spike of 44% in online ad revenue – largely due to viewers flocking to the site for Superbowl recipes and menus. Trading take out and table service for people are looking for ways to save money and still dine in style at home.

With what couldn’t have been any more perfect timing – Food Network recently revamped their entire online presence – serving up an portal entree of Food Network programming and recipes with side dishes of food facts and lifestyle tips. Food Network’s ability to stay attune to their audience’s palette on a day-to-day, week-to-week basis allows them to thoughtfully deliver digital content that will satisfy the appetite of their customers.Continue reading

The Culture Of Identity

Throughout history, we have witnessed great change – the fall of capitalism, the Industrial Revolution, and now the technology revolution. Central to all these periods of change we find commonalities that remain true. In all periods of change – the individual never changes. Though the individual may change the way he does things or goes about his daily life, he as a person never changes, his emotions, spirit, and need for discovery of self and identification with others remains strong.

In his book The Rise of the Network Society, Manuel Castells focuses on the interface between technology and society, which he refers to as the relationship between the net and self. This relationship stems from the increased desire for identity and self discovery which is often the only source of meaning in a society that is going through rapid and radical change – such as the change brought forth in the technological revolution.

Marshall McLuhan presented similar ideas Continue reading

Feminization Of Design

In his book Brandjam Marc Gobe writes about how brands today must shift from ‘communications’ and ‘commodities’ to ‘emotion’ and ‘inspiration’.

One of the key reasons why this shift needs to take place is because – as Marc says – Emotional design is feminized design. As a culture, we are getting more intuitive, more spiritual; we are learning more about and look at the world from a women’s point of view.

The job of good design is to make our experiences manageable and meaningful, taking a bland or messy experience and giving it poignant elegance and distilled power.Continue reading

The Science Of Relationships

“Today we are faced with the preeminent fact that, if civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships – the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together and work together, in the same world, at peace.”

Franklin Roosevelt wrote these words as part of his 1945 Jefferson Day speech. Although he died before he could deliver his message, his words still challenge us today – do we really understand the science of relationships?

In the book Vital Friends, Tom Rath writes about the absolute necessity for friends both in our personal and professional lives. One of his key arguments is that due to the nature of our society, we are far too focused on ourselves. As a result, we diminish the impact of relationships in our lives because we are too busy looking at what someone is not providing us with – expecting them to be everything – rather than in order to have healthy, productive, and mutually beneficial relationships, we need to focus on what each friend does to contribute to our lives.

In the same way that we need to focus on building relationships for ourselves, we also need to realize the critical need for cultivating the science of human relationships in marketing and design.

In a previous post, I wrote about the Purpose of Community – where in the midst of constant change, people are searching for new opportunities to unite with others based on their newly found identities.

I think the key to creating effective community will be directly related to our ability to execute the science of human relationships.

How can we transform advertising from a series of static touchpoints with a brand to a dynamic network of thoughtfully designed interactions that are tailored to and seamlessly blend with people’s lifestyles – creating a strong brand connection – a lifelong marriage with the brand.

Design + Change

We are in an era of immense global change where technology is creating a society that, although it is more connected, its people are arguably discontented because of an overall lack of cultural cohesion and a general sense of dehumanization.

Society is driven by the individual and each person’s unique journey to define themselves and find contentment of self apart from the collective ideas of the global village. This drive for individualism is necessary. However, we must find a way to resurrect the power, passion, and possibility that exists within a community.

In the midst of this postmodern time, a global perspective is emerging that focuses on community rather than the individual – realizing that we do not exclusively think or exist independently of the community with which we immediately identify. In order to design products, services, experiences, and Continue reading

The Purpose Of Community

Technology has undoubtedly had a dramatic change on our society. It has given us a new medium of communication that is creating a globally connected world where traditional boundaries mean less and less.

I am continually challenged by Manuel Castells’ book – The Rise of the Network Society. Castells addresses this concept and suggests that there is an increasing fragmentation between the group and individual due to the individual’s quest for self discovery in the midst of feeling lost in a world of incessant change.

We must realize that as a result of the individual’s increased search for identity, new social groups are being formed – made up of unique groups of individuals, all of whom are searching for connectedness based on their newly found identities.

I believe that a community has three goals: hear, understand, respond.

With the rise of social networking websites that are designed to bring people together, there seems to be a lack of meaningful substance lacking. Although these sites are effective at creating new social groups – I strongly believe that they lack a key elements of community – the ability to respond.

I think that the effectiveness of future of communities is directly related to our ability to engage with individuals on a personal level and provide them with meaningful, challenging, and customized content that will engage them and give them a forum to respond – to take action – to change their lives.

It is my passion to create meaningful messages and tools that provide people with the tools the need to hear, understand, and respond.

The Era Of Experience

It seems that society is creating an environment that is disengaging our spritis because its messages lack enough meaningful substance. However, at the core of each person, there is a spirit that is waiting to be engaged – waiting to be spoken to – waiting to be loved.

Engaging with the spirit requires that we dare to communicate in ways that to some would seem controversial because the authenticity, vulnerability, trust, and love that is required to engage human spirits is not common today.

If we want to create a relationship with customers, it must start with engaging people in emotional experiences.

Marshall McLuhan, the Canadian born communications theorist explored the value of experience and said that “Everybody experiences far more than he understands. Yet it is experience, rather than understanding, that influences behavior.”

Every interaction with our brand – our product – our business, provides us with a touchpoint – an opportunity for us to create an imprint on the spirit of our customer.

The feelings that an image can arouse, the memories that a sound resurrects, the comfort and security of a familiar touch, the desire that a smell creates – these experiences span all languages, cultures, and races – are are the strongest form of communication we can use to engage customers in their relationship with our brands.

By basing our designs on experience, we are able to resonate with the human spirit.

I believe the world will be changed one person at a time as we create lasting emotional connections that will shift paradigms and bring forth incredible and unprecedented awareness, growth, and action.