By Edward Usher
I’m a big fan of technology. I used to run a technology blog called Reload, and I have a MacBook. I like Aphex Twin, and processed meat. I wear glasses, and sometimes contact lenses, although never at the same time. I can use WordPress, in a manner of speaking. My shoes were made by a machine. I have a wristwatch that my grandad gave me, which runs like clockwork. I cut my fingernails with scissors, and my toenails with clippers that incorporate a basic lever. I’m pretty clued up.
In some areas of life, however, technology is less necessary. (Caveat: what follows is merely my opinion.) Able-bodied young people have no need for an electric toothbrush. Sex is better in person than online. Marmalade tastes better when made by straining through an ordinary, analogue tea-towel suspended over a bucket with an ordinary, analogue, upturned stool.
Steve Vranakis, ECD at Google Creative Labs, came into school this morning to give a talk on how technology powers creativity. Despite going to the Chip Shop Awards last night, I managed to understand just enough to know that Google is doing some pretty cool things.
It’s all tied into the preference among ‘millennials’ for brands that do some good. Conscientious capitalism and the like. All well and good. But brands still need to be wary not to do tech for tech’s sake. The Chip Shop Awards have a category poking fun at this very trend. In my own work I frequently catch myself getting excited about a new bit of kit, and shoe-horning the brand, or the benefit for a user, on at the end: very much the wrong way of doing it.
When incorporating technology into our projects, we must remember which parts of a person’s daily routine are open to technological ‘intrusion’ and which should be left alone. That’s real conscientiousness. Much as Bernbach treated the consumer with a bit of respect for their intellect, we must use technology with respect for their autonomy and privacy. Leave people’s marmalade alone, and they’ll probably respect you more for it. I think, in a roundabout way, that’s what Steve was trying to say. Or perhaps not. Like I said, I’d been to the Chip Shop Awards.