Caution: Universe Change

Today we lost an hour from our clock as daylight savings time made its return. That seems appropriate. Here in Chicago we vaulted from fall right into spring, bypassing the mess of winter we are usually required to endure. It’s the universe’s way of trying to keep up with the manic pace of convergence here on earth. Expect this to continue. It’s not climate change, it’s universe change. Things are expanding and speeding up and no you can’t stop it.

We used to say, “I”m going to go on the computer.” We would step down to the basement or enter our study and approach a massive control center. Something resembling a large television occupied much of the our desk space. The PC was called a “tower.” If you were brave enough to look behind that tower you would see a tangle of dozens of umbilical cords criss-crossing their way to various devices. All of it encased in a deep layer of protective dust. Everything was stationery. You had to make a pilgrimage to the altar of technology to experience a computer.

We no longer go on the computer. The computer is “on us”. It encases us. Surrounds us in a halo of spectrum. No cords, no large workspace footprint for a non-interlace monitor needed. One can easily lose a computer today. There is no friction between our curiosity and the all knowing internet. Think about that for a moment.

In her latest book Alone Together, Why we Expect more from Technology and Less from Each Other, Sherry Turkel writes.

Now we know that once computers connected us to each other, once we became tethered to the network, we really didn’t need to keep computers busy. They keep us busy. It is as though we have become their killer ap.

Indeed computers may be sorry they became so powerful. We are constantly clicking, tapping, pinching and swiping them to find out what they have been curating since the last check in. If they are slow we curse. There will be no rest for them, ever again.

This has major implications for marketers who now need to be digital domain experts and social mavens in order to gain value for their campaigns and results. We will need to bring in mobile, social and the web. This means the corporate site of course, but it extends well beyond a web site into society at large. It will require mastery of time and space and behavior. Something very different that we have had to do in the past. Tell them (yourself) to get going and fast. Before we lose another hour. Oh and by the way, Web 2.0 is irrelevant.


Working in the New Digital Design Landscape

You can pretty much break the web down into three phases. The first was Read, the second saw the emergence of Distribution & Commerce, with the third being Communication. Phase is not really the right word, dissolves may be better choice. The Internet has taken everything it was from the prior phase and brought it along into the next one, layering on new and exciting technologies and features. People who worked in interactive in the 1990’s through roughly 2003 essentially built one thing, web sites. Those sites evolved and became rich experiences, but despite the speed of those changes, we kept up pretty well because the content was well contained, neatly boxed-in by the browser, mounted on a stationary computer. Laptops certainly travel, but that’s about taking a smaller version of your stationary computer with you, as the browser, keyboard, and hard drive are identical to their desktop counterparts.

Certainly browser resolution, cookies, javascript, flash, etc. needed to be taken into consideration, but that was child’s play compared to what we have to think about today when designing digital experiences. Today content and experiences can be accessed on multiple devices (no standards) and in any situation, especially driving. And it’s not just point and click. It’s much more complicated. For example.








There’s endless discussion about how to prioritize projects and with them the designs and development of content. Designers today need to think harder about their customer and personas and consult the data more than ever before to avoid letting the shiny object get all the attention. Could be the wrong shiny object. I’ve put together this chart, which really helps me when planning work and making decisions about interfaces, devices and communications channels.

One of the most heated debates is whether tablets, like iPads, are desktops or mobile devices. I have drawn them in as overlaps, as I believe they need to be considered as both, at least for now. When I approach a project, I take out this chart and sketch out the entirety of the experience.