Jun 19, 2007

What's behind simple engagement?

I've lapsed on the blogging again. Sorry if you've been checking in.

This will ramble as I'm a bit pressed for time, but in the past two weeks I've been thinking a lot about how specific technologies stick with me.

I started using Tumblr and really like it--I can map my online thought process and share interesting discoveries quickly and easily. It helps me interact more with the stream of information--allows me to export what's running around my head, which in my opinion, represents the start of a creative act.

What's interesting about Tumblr is that it makes it so easy to become more engaged with my online activities. I've read a few things that state that "engagement," as in "brand engagement" or "consumer engagement" is now on the ass-end of the evolution curve, and I guess if you take the term to mean "entanglement" or "amusement" or "sticky" that's probably the case.

I'm thinking more on the lines of "engagé," of taking part, of moving things forward, of being connected to what's happening. Let's call it "hyper-engagement" for the hell of it. That's still important and relevant, in my opinion. Blogs and Tumblr facilitate a greater connection with online life and help me bridge information sources and idea generation. They widen my mental scope and allow me to share that process.

In the communications business we often talk about relevancy and engagement, but the majority of the time we're looking at it from the client's perspective--how to monetize some one's attention span or alter their behavior. Often we stop at relevant and interesting or relevant and persuasive. And perhaps that's all we need to do in the short term.

But I think in the long term, technologies have to create/facilitate/create hyper-engagement, otherwise the tools are just entertainments. Not a bad thing, to be sure, but far from something that pushes advancement or gives rise to new behaviors, or even better, adds a new dimension to our basic human needs.

Here's an example of what I mean: As someone at the very beginning of what demographers call Gen X, I've left texting and tools like Twitter to those with younger and more nimble thumbs. And then I read a great post by Russell Davies (he's a well-known advertising account planner guy who left Weiden and Kennedy to to pursue a mixed grill of interesting pursuits) about being stuck in an airport and how Twitter kept him going.

"Huh," I thought, "He's gotta be older than me." So I signed up as an experiment and invited a few friends, and a couple of them accepted.

Last week it was cool to receive a few small blips from a close friend of ours who's moving her family of five to London. It wasn't much, just some complaints about a crappy Internet connection, but I felt a slightly stronger connection her, even though we didn't really communicate.

It's kinda like Tumblr--pretty much one-way and one-to-many--but it sure cut down the distance between us, if only for a few minutes. I'm interested to see how the experiment develops.

1 comment:

ambi said...

hola amigo! the most important technology to me these days is skype as it keeps me connected to family and friends back in sf. curious whether you use it and what you think or if there are better newer cooler gadgets.