Organic, unfinished and addictive

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.

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6 Comments

  1. September 29
    Reply

    Hi Helge,

    Agree with your premise. I think the words Organic, Unfinished and Addictive add value to the meaning to the nature of digital/interactivity.

    My suggestion is generative:
    “Generative – having the power or function of generating, originating, producing. The qualities are emergent, spreadable, collaborative and open. It invites people to build on the ideas of others and benefit from their work. Think TED and Barcamp.

    As an aside, I have a the same problem with the word ‘marketing’ but I don’t know why. I read the most recent wikipedia definition and it still holds true. Probably lacks the sense of value, meaning and purpose. Be interested in your thoughts?

    Cheers

    @MichaelBatistic

  2. September 29
    Reply

    Hi Michael, good thoughts. “Generative” is also a definitive enrichment to the mindset going on around digital.

    I haven’t thought about the same problem being true for marketing, I can see from the description that it is very formal and neutral:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marketing

    And especially the last paragraph:
    “The term marketing concept holds that achieving organizational goals depends on knowing the needs and wants of target markets and delivering the desired satisfactions. It proposes that in order to satisfy its organizational objectives, an organization should anticipate the needs and wants of consumers and satisfy these more effectively than competitors.”

    Makes me think that a good addition to this blog post would be: We are being overly careful with language, in order to make it more correct than to actually mean something and engage.

    Thanks for contributing.

    Best
    Helge

  3. September 29
    Reply

    Well spotted and truly lol-worthy.

    Many thanks for the comment.

    I hope to explore the ‘marketing’ definition at some time when I get a moment. I kind of like the angle of Umair Haque and his Awesomeness Manifesto. If you haven’t seen it I’d recommend it highly.

  4. September 29
    Reply

    I find Haque’s process a bit selective but certainly like the conclusion. I’ve added a link and my favorite part:

    “Let’s summarize. What is awesomeness? Awesomeness happens when thick — real, meaningful — value is created by people who love what they do, added to insanely great stuff, and multiplied by communities who are delighted and inspired because they are authentically better off. That’s a better kind of innovation, built for 21st century economics.”

    http://blogs.hbr.org/haque/2009/09/is_your_business_innovative_or.html

  5. September 30
    Reply

    Helge

    You are absolutely right that “digital” cannot be the term as it describes the origin of the technology, and not the motivation or behavior behind its use. Although I never reflected it before …

    Addictive? Negative connotation!

    Unfinished? Negative as well.

    Organic? My first association is food ;)

    I vote for staying with interactive!

  6. September 30
    Reply

    Hi Harald, thanks for pitching in. :)

    I’ll ad Brian Eno’s thoughts on “interactive”, hoping you have a comment on that?

    “In a blinding flash of inspiration, the other day I realized that ?interactive? anything is the wrong word. Interactive makes you imagine people sitting with their hands on controls, some kind of gamelike thing.”

    and

    “Finishing implies interactive: your job is to complete something for that moment in time. A very clear example of this is hypertext. It?s not pleasant to use – because it happens on computer screens – but it is a far-reaching revolution in thinking. The transition from the idea of text as a line to the idea of text as a web is just about as big a change of consciousness as we are capable of. I can imagine the hypertext consciousness spreading to things we take in, not only things we read. I am very keen on this unfinished idea because it co-opts things like screen savers and games and models and even archives, which are basically unfinished pieces of work.”

    Helge

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