Digital Gets Physical: Thoughts from SXSW
Where I get “Glassholes”, “digital dualism” and the New Aesthetic (still!) into my company’s blog. Go read:
But what was SXSW really all about?
The convergence of digital and physical.
Interfaces are about how we connect our physical, sensory bodies to digital displays. Augmented reality seeks a seamless meshing of the two. The sharing economy is about using digital and social technology to help us better manage our property. And MakerBot’s 3D scanners and printers give us a technology that can digitise the physical, digitally manipulate it – and print this new hybrid object back out into physical reality.
These are ideas that tech theorists have been hashing around for a couple of years… [read more]
Of course, I wasn’t the only person to spot this theme at South By. Three panels had it in their titles:
Rachel Arthur (WGSN), writing for Business of Fashion, agrees.
Ad agency JTW’s Innovation unit were also really pushing this line. Their ‘Director of Trendspotting’ Ann Mack spoke on the “Embracing Analog” panel - an interesting (Q & A) here. Where we differ: I’m talking convergence, whereas they’re still firmly in the world of digital dualism:
If you keep in mind that digital is for efficiency and convenience, and physical is for feelings of substance and emotional connectedness—for feelings generally—you can’t go too far wrong.
What’s more interesting is a survey from Frank Rose:
"Embracing Analog" at SXSW: What the growing fascination with the physical means for marketers (and everyone else)
It starts by looking straightforwardly enough about the things people do digitally, and the things they do analogue. Key figure: only 7% of Millennials were “hard core digital” - we’re not there yet. The survey then asked about the emotional associations people had with “stuff”:
"I’d be interested in buying now-obsolete items like record players as a collector’s item"
- Millennial: 64%
- Gen X: 51%
- Boomer: 28%
- Silent: 15%
Two-thirds of Millennials said they regard nicks and scratches on an object as a sign of personality, compared to half of Boomers.
Thence, Instagram and skeuomorphism…
But, as my choice of image shows, not everyone is happy about digital-physical convergence. Grumpy Cat for one would have been happier left on Mashable.com, not the Mashable tent…
Image credit: Buzzfeed, gofwd.tumblr.com