Jan Chipchase: Nine Trends Shaping the Future of Social Interaction

Reposted from janchipchase.com

The following notes accompany a presentation titled Future Social to the 2008 LIFT Asia conference and relates to this post. The slides can be downloaded from here 3MB

Watch a video of the talk Nine Trends Shaping the Future of Social Interaction

You’re tired, you’re looking for somewhere to sit and rest a while and you come across the space pictured below. What can you do here? Can you have a phone conversation? Could you take out a laptop? Do you think it’s OK to smoke here? If it’s hot – can you take your shirt off? What kind of services does this space support? Is it the kind of place where it’s OK to talk with a stranger?

Tokyo, 2007

What about this person? If you were sitting there how might his presence affect you? And you decision about whether to stay in this space?

But what if you knew more about him? What if you knew that he has very few friends? Or that he got top marks at a very prestigious university? That he has a poor credit history?

How does your perception of this space change depending on what he’s doing? What if you knew he’s a medical student and he’s revising for his final exams? He’s want to be a heart surgeon… and set up a charity to treat kids… whose parents can’t afford treatment. Or actually watching a adult movie? Or that he’s tracking the final stages of an auction on eBay? Or that right now he’s writing nasty comments about you on the LIFT conference web site? Or more likely that he’s multi-tasking and doing all of these things at the same time

As you’re standing there deciding what to do next – how would your decision making process change if you knew he was going to be there for another 4 hours? Or that he’ll be done in the next five minutes?

Tokyo, 2008

The rest of the presentation details nine trends that frame how to consider this design space:

  1. The first is that ever more of life is pocketable – that you will increasingly be able to carry the tools you use to communicate, entertain, that help you understand where you are, what you want to do next – the very stuff of life in other words. As soon as things become pocketable they end being carried and used in a wide variety of contexts. Within what time frame does what stuff become pocketable? How does allow new ways to connect, to what and whom? And what services can they access?
  2. With the exception of pure play socially driven services it will always be easier to design something for sole use rather than shared use. Even if sharing an experience through one device is preferred there will be numerous situations where people will end up having serial solitary experiences – being together in the same space, doing the same thing but experienced through different devices.A simple example of this is the way that Japanese mobile phone users add privacy filters to their screen – not only does it make shoulder surfing on the Tokyo subway impractical – it makes it more difficult for two people to watch the same movie. Yes there are exceptions to this – notably when it is desirable to save battery life or when sharing is as simple and delightfully close as sharing headphones.
  3. That so much more of what we carry is or will be connected – with people, services, the infrastructure around us and other objects we carry. Connected things talk – so what they will talk about? Currently the big shift in this space is whether and how we share location and other rich contextual information, with whom, and with what level of granularity?
  4. Whilst sharing music, video, intimate details is both inherently human and mostly positive – we have to recognise that when the default is to share then it creates significant social pressure on those that prefer not to since the question of opting out of adopting a technology becomes one whether to opt out of society. You can see it today with late adopters who are pressured by relatives or their employer’s into carrying a mobile phone, but the same applies to any mainstream connected technology.
  5. The connectivity, infrastructure and increasing sophistication of online services enables us to reduce the time between asking the question and having the answer and at some point we’ll have access to automated and real time associations of people, what they do, their history, and based hundreds of millions of lifetime’s worth of data sets a prediction of what they are going to do next. Of course not just want they want you to know, but all the other stuff that leaks around the edges.
  6. Technology is being adopted at a younger age by kids who don’t’ share your sense of the right or wrong way to use something. How quickly will your technological and social literacy become niche? How long before you are effectively illiterate?
  7. That the boundaries such as personal and work life that still exist today will continue to erode. For all our intent to maintain these boundaries the discipline it requires is usually overridden by convenience and to some extent social pressures. The photos show a commuter in on the outskirts of Cleveland answering work emails on the way to the office, and during a study in Iran a participant told us about how whilst women need to wear a headscarf in public – there was a significant leakage in that photos were taken in private without headscarf say on a camera phone and that these were then being handed around amongst friends – consequently eroding social norms.
  8. That the speed of technological change will continue to increase and that for some services the lifetime will be measured in days or hours.
  9. That pocketable is just a nano-sized stepping stone to becoming invisible – invisible not in the sense of the designer’s nirvana of a seamless experience, but simply that its technically possible to make objects that are too small or hidden for other’s to see. And that with this – the emphasis on social cues and how we plan to use them becomes even more important.

Related research here.

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