Oh, the humanity: Dean Taylor on why ‘digital’ is so misleading

We were keen to start a blog at Contagion, but one that would be relevant. As with all these things, there is no shortage of material we think is interesting, but you want it to be worthwhile to your audience and thought provoking enough to create conversation. With this in mind, we wanted to go right to the heart of the issue of digital. And that’s the point, it does have a heart, a brain and a personality. 

Because it is about people, it is about you. Too many times we hear that it is all about the technology or the latest trend ‘that has not been done before’. Ultimately we are asking people to feel something deeply and get involved when we put a digital piece of creativity in front of them. We should be creating involving interactive creativity that allows the audience to explore more of their own humanity. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gmP4nk0EOEBack in early 2007, a great professor of anthropology published a video. This posed an interesting thesis: the machine is simply the collective consciousness of us all. We feed the machine our deepest hopes and fears, in return it gifts us a whole planet of emotional people doing exactly the same.

One of the many reasons the technology revolution has kicked into overdrive over the past seven years (YouTube was only born in 2005, Facebook started to go mainstream in 2006) is that this is now a revolution based on people talking and sharing. It is our natural behavior. So this revolution, above all, is a social revolution. It is about people’s creativity, their need for a voice, and for the world to hear it. It has fundamentally extended our humanity and that is much more exciting than simply talking about ‘media habits’.

When looking at any digital strategy or creative we are looking at the disciplines of psychology, social anthropology and sociology for insights and learnings. We should be ambitious for our understanding of contemporary human beings and how they behave in groups. The fact that they are online only adds more intrigue. It is crucial to understand the nature of status and pride if we are going to understand the individual and the group. More importantly, we need to know the power play between these and how we can ultimately extract value for our clients from this interplay.

Of course, technology does allow us to target the right people and know more about them so we can have the right conversation and have a much more intimate conversation.

We have six levels we look at in terms of how to judge our own work and how we advise clients. Level one to four are simply house-keeping points, five is getting interesting, but six should be where the real skill lies. 

1. Functional – Does it work?

When I go there and press a link, will it take me where I want it to?

2. Technical – Is it up with the play?

Does it use the medium well?

3. Usable – Is it intuitive?

Has the user architecture been thought out properly?

4. Convenient – Does it help me do things better?

Will it save me time and money? Will it help me find the information I need?

5. Pleasurable – Does it make me happy?

Is it something I enjoy? Is it fun?

6. Meaningful – Does it extend my humanity?

Does it help me explore my emotions? Does it help me get closer to my friends, mother, father, daughter, son? Does it help me love? And does it use all of the above to deliver results for our clients?

  • Dean Taylor has worked for the world’s top advertising agencies and his roles have taken him across the planet with jobs in London, Sydney and Singapore. His love of New Zealand started when he moved here to be managing director of Saatchi & Saatchi in 2004. In 2008 he was promoted to chief executive for Saatchi Singapore and Malaysia. But the lure of New Zealand proved too strong and he moved back here in late 2010 to run his own agency Contagion.
  • This article originally appeared on the Contagion blog, which will be updated every few weeks. 

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