Learning from Other Streams

Talking with my lady today about the many streams of life that I pass through during the day, she and I took in the fashion and life stylings of Garance Dore. In one of her latest videos, she talks about the relationship that women have to fashion, shoes, each other, and such. I explained to my lady that its in these streams that I glean perspectives about mobile (and even faith) that aren’t so easily seen within their dedicated areas.

Garance, and her photo-snapping friend Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist, tend to have such an eye towards the abnormal that in their describing of moments, enviornments, textures, and events, that I can see some threads for mobile that are sometimes missed in the "race for another smartphone spec" that seems to permenate the industry. For example, in the video noted above, there’s this attention to the "why choose this color or accessory," and in that conversation with my lady I expounded that in mobile, its not simply a matter of picking what works, but sometimes we pick up the mobile we do because of some kind of emotion or expression it invokes. Or, if the mobile isn’t capable by itself, we take to accessorizing with cases, apps, etc. that demonstrate the style we have, or the style we wish the device designers would have embedded into it.

We can take that a step further given Apple’s Jonathan Ive’s comments in an interview posted recently:

I think that people’s emotional connection to our products is that they sense our care, and the amount of work that has gone into creating it.

How do you become associated with that sense of care? I think its by associating yourself with those colors, events, materials, and moments that matter. Things inside and outside of the scope of the technology, but have that same effect of being vital to the entire experience of it. So, if you are in a store and see nothing but a wall of Android mobiles, all showing the same screen, with the apps, etc., how do you begin to peel away all that is familiar to what makes that device special? You touch it – play with the weights and textures. You get an idea on how your light hits it and what kind of feeling it gives you besides "hey, I can call mom with this."

Or, perhaps its associating yourself with that concept of the "ideal reality." I think automakers do this really well, and that’s another one of those streams that I use to filter what I understand and want to understand about mobiles. Can my Nokia give me that same feeling that a BMW does (my N8 does to some degree)? Does the placement of controls and buttons on a Toyota make sense in the same way that the home button does on an iPad? Is there something "cheap" about one car over another, even though both are from GM, or made by Samsung? That kind of casting is present in just about everything that’s marketed, cars so much so – its kind of riduclous if you aren’t a fan of hamsters right.

I guess I’m writing all of this to say, as I’ve probably stated on Twitter (and I know I have to several friends) that there’s more than just features and specs to consider when it comes to me and mobiles, and that’s what kind of keeps me around the industry, though not as active as I used to be. I’m seeing mobile in different streams, and its asking me to consider the technology, the communication, and its effects across (probably better for me) streams. In addition, I’m getting to see how other industries deal with rapid change ("ooh, let’s make a fashion app since we can’t keep them from taking photos at the show"). How entrenched industries deal and navigate their change lets me in on some ways in which those in mobile will have to navigate this one.

Mobile won’t be primary forever. In fact, it just might be going away to something more applicable to the needs of the tech and the behavior. But, we’d only understand that when we pay attention to the other streams that mobile will itself also be.