As has been said many times before: Our language limits our perspective and our ideas, by framing our conversations and discussions.
And we are, as an industry and probably as humans, not focused enough on the power of language, and the need to innovate our vernacular in order to innovate our ideas.
Online we are still using the same terms we were ten years ago even if the context and the use has completely changed. We still use “digital” as a term even if it describes the origin of the technology, and not the motivation or behavior behind its use.
I’ve lately come across three suggestions for terms that could replace “digital/interactive”: Organic, unfinished and addictive.
- The first suggestion is organic:
“Organic – the surface itself responds to environmental influence. This can be interaction, updates, monitor size etc.” – www.180360720.no
The second suggestions comes from a Kevin Kelly interview with Brian Eno:
“The right word is “unfinished.” Think of cultural products, or art works, or the people who use them even, as being unfinished. Permanently unfinished. We come from a cultural heritage that says things have a “nature,” and that this nature is fixed and describable. We find more and more that this idea is insupportable – the “nature” of something is not by any means singular, and depends on where and when you find it, and what you want it for. The functional identity of things is a product of our interaction with them. And our own identities are products of our interaction with everything else.” – WIRED
The third suggestion is by a colleague of mine Anders Fagerhus at Scandinavian Design Group:
His notions is that digital is “addicitive”. As I interpret the term it could be related to the relational ability of the digital platform. Inviting people in to spend time, engage, stick to and retry and discover the same solution for minutes, hours or months. – @afagerhus
I’m still not sure if these three terms are better in the end, but having them in our minds, using them instead of “mobile” or “email” or “facebook” sure introduces a completely different, fresher, and what feels like a more interesting mindset to create valuable ideas in.
So I’ll keep using them. Please send me your suggestions.