Man in the Marketing Machine: Learning ’Life in Flow’

The Guardian has printed an article I’ve written following my experiences at this year’s SXSW innovation and technology show, in which I offer three pointers to help us – as people, and for the companies and brands for which we create communications – embrace technology so it flows more naturally in all our lives.

Keynote speaker President Barack Obama issued a challenge to the tech community at the conference, held annually in Texas. He said we should refocus away from trivialities and onto the serious issues, such as the democratic process:

“It’s easier to order a pizza than it is to vote.”

As I see it, we aren’t nurturing ourselves, or others. We’re being driven by immediate gratification and that does little for self-reflection. So, I used my time
at SXSW to grapple with how we can collectively mature in our approach.

Here are three points providing a snapshot of SXSW 2016, to help us avoid gliding through life in an Uber-like brand bubble, and embrace technology to
live more mindful, human lives:

Place human service above value extraction

Cyber-visionary Douglas Rushkoff warned: “We’re developing companies that are designed to do little more than take money out of the system.” Echoing this was Julia Hu, founder/CEO of Lark, who said we must instead philosophically place human service design above utility in order to enrich experience and extend future brand value.

Humans must teach big data and AI how to behave

Wireds Kevin Kelly said big data – the fuel for artificial intelligence development – is more acceptable when both parties are complicit in ’co-veillance’: gathering and controlling it together. Meanwhile, a panel offering a realistic vision of AI’s human impact said the key opportunity is in using our own behaviour to inform how AIs grow – literally having them learn through interaction with children.

Human experience design requires friction

I agree with Steve Selzer of Airbnb, who said that ease alone does not enrich experiences; we need to design friction back in, to encourage personal growth and deliver a more human connection. As our relationship with tech moves forward, we must be mindful that the future doesn’t just happen – it is shaped by us. And while basing all our choices on ease – feeding our every whim at the touch of a button – certainly represents flow… it isn’t much of a life.

‘Life in flow’ is our new focus at HeyHuman. We’ve consciously re-engineered the agency to interrogate those behaviours that really drive what people do, identify the relationships people want (and that nourish them), and determine how to make creative more brain-friendly.

Read the full article here.

Dan Machen is HeyHuman’s Director of Innovation