Some musing on how our digital experiences could become more human.
What if we defined our digital personality, not facebook, not twitter, not “your present favoured social network or service”, not by the web form intended to create the best possible set of data points for that services needs.
Web forms are such a key clog of the digital experience that teams of people across the globe are dedicated to refining our interactions with them. Making them more engaging, easier to complete, or trying to make them obsolete (well for others anyway). What if the humble form served the users personal expression, not that of the service?
What if we used free forms?
A standard modern web form (name, password, email) was combined with the ability for the user to add an input field of their choosing?
If you wanted to add a bio about yourself, select the type of input required and add that field to the form. Want to add your location? Select the input type and add it. Want to add something not defined by the input types, what about a free input field – add anything you like, similar to posting on comment on Facebook within the form.
What if we combined the ease of digital sharing with the humanity of analog for self expression?
Combining a tablet with a pen (yes, yes Samsung has done it, I know) but what if it was blended with the greatest form of digital expression – a social network. This network could have all the elements we love – connecting with friends, posting things of interest, discussing thoughts with others.
What if we could create a blog, diary, or just thoughts with the directness of pen and paper, then share these within the structure of a social network. Expressing ourselves with the pen in our own hand instead of a keyboard – sketch, annotate, adjust photos as if using a paint brush, then to share/publish/save those creations across a network.
Imagine reading a blog post as if you were reading a page within a note book, the personality of that person expressed on screen (doodles and all) taking the social network experience and humanising it.
What if we used social notebooks?
All the functionality or chrome could be contained with the pen, the ability to share, make private, publish, all done using the pen. The social notebook would be a lovechild of Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, but without page flip, when you opened it would be filled with your creations along with those of your friends – you could add, read, and expand on its contents. It would reflect the non-linear nature of what makes us human, we are creative – not restricted by the structure of a digital interaction. At every level the network would be a celebration of individual expression, reflecting the personality and humility of every user with their own hand.
Static wireframe showing the main uses of a social notebook. Focusing on the content and personality of the person, while using the pen for its functionality. (Click image for larger view)
Instead of being a slave to SEO, cautiously tagging everything we post to serve the great search overloads, what if we tagged our content emotionally?
Centuries have been spent cataloging information in different forms (its a noble use of one’s life to ensure knowledge isn’t lost) but in this digital age where recording has become an invisible (your mobile network knows where you are at all times) and active (tweeted, posted, pinned anything lately?), we should be looking beyond recording.
Emotion is how we define ourselves as human, we should embrace its nuance to express our humanity digitally.
Using music to explore this idea. It is such a powerful art form that the same piece can be heard by millions and yet form individual connections with each. Genre’s were created to help define different compositions, which expanded to define generations. Take away genre classification, you are left with how that piece makes you feel, forming an autobiographic soundtrack to a life – lived in sound!
In the case of music service ex.fm, emotional tagging it already happening in small volumes, see example below. While now widely used by its users these emotional tags get can to the heart of the music, reflecting its mood, forming a connection with the listeners soul.
Emotional tagging from ex.fm
Would love to hear any thoughts about any of these ideas.