Diversity defines the features

I proposed a talk for Reboot this year. It accumulates my feelings on a emerging trend on impulse shaped services. In the period heading to the conference I’ll try to connect findings on this topic from others if I ran into them.

Great thoughts of Kevin Kelly as ever. In an extensive post as always he talks on the increasing diversity in technology, in his model of the technium. I agree on his vision and see a lot of challenging developments.

Once one to one marketing was the holy grail. The digital revolution was making a personalized communication possible. It turns out to be impractical and expensive. Segmentation is still the dominant manner. Based on the ideas of diversity we see a one to one product development emerge.

I really think the trick is in the smart adaptions to behavior. As a start the diversity goes further than one product per person. The products adapts to the moment of use. We will get contextual products. As Kelly also states there is a friction between options and comfort. The uncomfortable feelings arise from a feeling of lack of control. A fluid adoption will lead to intuitive personal products.

Another important topic Kelly addresses is the balance between diversity and standards. We need a set of rules like the alphabet to be able to handle the diversity, the rules need to be free enough to create a lot of variations, like the languages and words with our alphabet shows as a great example.

The trick is of course the the rules have to have an atomic character. The components must be basic enough to be able to create the right amount of variations, but defined enough to shape enough frictions to be a fundament for understanding.
Another fine example in this area is Lego. I think they went the wrong road to make the building blocks more and more defined in itself. This makes it less interesting to use as tool for the own creativity of the children. I think they turned around this development already.

The balance between freedom of options and enough friction for understanding and stimulation is the essence for valuable services. The smartness of the interactions with the products that uses the frictions to limited the options will be fuel for the context adaptable features.

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I am a design director at Structural. I curate and organize ThingsCon Netherlands and I am chairman of the Cities of Things Foundation. Before I was innovation and strategy director at tech and innovation agency INFO, visiting researcher and lab director at the Delft University of Technology coordinating Cities of Things Delft Design Lab.

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