It is said that Steve Jobs was particularly proud to have taken part in three revolutionary moments in how people interact with information: the mouse, the wheel (as the one you used on your first iPods), and the touch. I don’t know if this story is true, the pride part I mean, but he certainly was instrumental to how those selectors were developed.
Point, click. Roll, select. See, touch. It is interesting to see that the evolution was to take out the mouse, which was such a revolution in itself, introducing the “point” (as in aim) in our management of information. The physicality of it called for our own hands to ultimately become the selector, with their suite of gestures that allow us to manipulate information.
Connectivity, the Internet, added interactivity. Our selections generated the display of new content in response, and interacting with information became some sort of dialogue. In the meantime, screens got to be everywhere, and most of us now carry at least one at all time. Lightly tap with your finger tip, and the world answers back. Soon, just moving your hands, or pointing at a screen, without actually touching it, will be enough, or just talking will fire up an application on some surrounding device.
We are entering an age of hyper connectivity, where many of our everyday objects will be hooked to the network. Information is recorded about everything; our surroundings are mapped, indexed, and commented by millions of people. We now have devices that you can point toward more and more physical locations, and information about them pops up. Tomorrow, our glasses will do that whenever we look at something, or someone.
The world is becoming digital. When was the last time you used words such as “cyber” or “virtual”? Virtuality is now reality, too. Of course, digital then means data, data everywhere, data from people, from things, from people interacting with things, things interacting with things, people interacting with people. Always on, always recording.
Let’s forget for an instant about epithets such as “big”, “enormous”, “gigantic”, and let us think for a moment about what such a world will mean from a marketing point of view. We can already suspect that in that world, we will have many more opportunities to spread our messages, to try to work our way through an unimaginable clutter of solicitation; ads superimposed on the Moon?
Or maybe people will have finally understood that their data is currency, and will apply layers of permission filters. Maybe we will reach the end of any kind of mass media advertising, and buy ads through market places where people will offer their attention for the highest bidder. Willing to monetize their perfect profile, i.e. their records of everything they’ve bought, liked, attended in their entire life; customers will be assigned some kind of FICO scores of purchasing power, of projected life time value, marketers will buy, with some of that money going back to each individual with “no obligation to buy”.
I can’t even envisage what analyzing such data will require; most probably artificial intelligence. And if artificial intelligence gets involved, one can suspect that automation won’t be too far, and that there might be a day when we don’t need people to market stuff to other people.
Where would be the best place to put your ad?
P.S. January 30th 2015 update: There you are! See Microsoft Hololens