Bridging the gap between technology and behavior

In an epic quote by Clay Shirky there is a missing link; how do we get from one state to the other?

    “A revolution doesn’t happen when society adopts new tools, it happens when society adopts new behaviors” – Clay Shirky, Us Now

So the question begs: How do we move from things being “a technology“ to being something changing our behavior? The solution could be both interesting (most these things are :o) but also very tangible and applicable for the stuff we do.

Jeffrey Cole of USC Annenberg School Center for the Digital Future presented some ideas on broadband a couple of years ago. Saying that the effect of broadband has nothing to do with the bandwidth speed, but is related to people being “always on” and with a fixed cost. In other words, our accessibility.

Now broadband was an important enabler for how we changed our use of the Internet, others where wifi, laptops, portable networks. All of them having one thing in common: increased accessibility.

Increasing accessibility to stuff helps us fit it into our everyday life, either by having the opportunity to use it when we want, where we want or how we want. Or by removing a host of rational or irrational barriers to its use (like the sound of a dial-up modem, but not speed).

Putting this into a micro perspective you can say that if you are trying to change the behavior of your customers:

    Say you want to ad something to the context surrounding the product in which you wanted the customer to adopt this new service as a part of their behavior and thereby increasing the value the brand is creating.

Then accessibility is a driver for this.

Meaning that hiding stuff away inside “browsered” websites isn’t a god idea, but porting solutions to a range of different platforms, handsets or objects might be a better and smarter way.

The goal would be to make the service so easily accessible that it as a technology becomes invisible but contextually becomes valuable. (Also borrowed and slightly adopted from Shirky).

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2 Comments

  1. August 27
    Reply

    perhaps i would add something before, contextualy valuable. contextualy mandetory.

    your post, great as always, reminds me of how text messaging got big in the USA. By linking it to American Idol. you want to vote (which you do) then you have to learn how to text.

    After this mandetory act, you voluntarily start to discover the value of the act ot texting within the context, but also u start to see other creative uses outside the context (see hashtags # which was invented by users not by twitter.com).

    But twitter made mandetory the 140 characters, thus forcing certain behaviour we now take for granted, much like texting in the USA and all over the world.

    broadband does not give u a choice, you are always on. So perhaps counter intuitive, but a bit of pavlovian schooling (delibaratly dsiginged in a service or product) stil goes a long way to create invisible habits, that in turn offer a platform for user creativity.

    just some thoughts..

  2. August 28
    Reply

    Thanks for sharing Niko, interesting thoughts regarding the “mandatory” stuff, I’ll have to chew on it, but I like the angle :o)

    The thing with the hashtag is also a bit like Poker. Nobody wrote the concept of “bluffing” in the rulebook, it just happened as people interacted with the rules of the game and each other – but it became its most important feature.

    Best
    Helge

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