Interestingly, in integrating digital thinking into our lives, potentially the biggest change we will see will be in the physical world. This change is the opportunity to help us secure our future and that of generations to come.
With the potential for connectivity to affect nearly everything we interact with and consume in our homes and offices, and whilst we are out and about, we will see completely new behaviours developing and new organisations, services and products that support them. Some call it ‘the internet of things’: I think of it as the next step in human connection to the world around us, the ‘humanising of things’.
We won’t need massive factories in a few locations around the world when we can have things made on our 3D printer at home or in the local corner shop. What will happen to all the ships and ports and infrastructure that currently supports the global distribution and logistics of such things? When our domestic and work machines are able to be diagnosed, serviced and maintained digitally with minimal need for expensive and time consuming repairs - what will happen to the mountain of waste we create everyday? Will it be acceptable to throw out the old just to get hold of the new? How will we use the excess energy we can create by new ways of controlling and sharing the way that it flows? Will all the world finally have light and heat when it’s needed?
The list of potential changes to our world from the humanising of things is potentially endless. It’s our job to understand where to start and how to protect and nurture a better future where outcomes are improved and experiences enlivened for all of us. What behaviours should we change, which people do we need to work with, what places do we need to be present in and what products and services do we need to create and support to help us deliver them? How do governments, organisations and society work together to integrate this new digital future successfully? How do we manage and protect all the data that’s created and who owns the data?
“Does this change make things more human and better for everyone involved?”
We’ll see new ways of creating things from all corners of the world that can be easily shared and enjoyed where and when we need them with more and more things able to be found and understood through personalised exploration. We're already seeing a massive rise in the use of video as the way people communicate and capture the things they like and want to share. It’s being used more and more by our news providers and will raise major challenges to areas of privacy and ownership. We’ll soon start to see the use of video tools to validate educational qualifications. We’ll find that through improved and trusted ways of sharing our data, that our preferences, needs, means and ambitions can be better met - by our friends and family, by our local communities and the businesses that serve them as well as the organisations and governments that provide our public services. (How well will businesses deal with the new legislation under the General Data Protection Regulation coming into force in 2017?). There will be a data revolution and its value will have to be credited to its creators by those that currently exploit it freely.
Is it as simple as asking “Does this change make things more human and better for everyone involved?”
We need to remember sustainability and keep putting society, economics and the environment at the centre of our design and decision making process. Checking and challenging the likely outcomes of our actions and testing these against our combined values and purpose and in so doing we are likely to have helped create a better world.
(ORIGNIALLY WRITTEN JUNE 2013 & UPDATED NOVEMBER 2016).
Would be great to hear your thoughts too. Don't hesitate to drop me a line