Dirk Knemeyer

Clearing the idea box

So rather than just saying “I’m too busy to write!” I’m going to empty my burgeoning idea box. Some of these go back 6 months. I’d love to develop each of them into a longer post if not an essay or article, but to get some traction here and clear my head, I’m just dumping them for you to leaf through. Sorry for the very unstructured nature of it all!

June 22, 2005: CNN’s move of bringing their video service onto the web for free threatens to dilute the value of their overall service, because the quality/stream/size/resolution are not great. Their putting the accessibility ahead of the success of the technology could end up being a negative. (Note: similarly, once the video iPod came out, I thought about the degradation of value of content like television shows and movies on that low-fidelity screen. Of course, the result might be a revolution of content forms – perhaps even a rebirth of the music video)

July 9, 2005: Through technology, humans are increasingly entering into a “taking” mindset. Historically, there was a transactional and social element to acquiring things in the world which, thank to technology, is disappearing. I am seeing human behavior change: things like less eye contact, paying less attention to other people, spoken niceties all seem to be dwindling. I see this at the many conferences I go to, where people are using their computers as opposed to really paying attention. Some of this might be a good thing, as with the presentations: people are moving beyond the flat content and are interactively exploring the things they are hearing. But at the most basic level, we are seeing a real shift of people from cultural participants to cultural consumers.

July 9, 2005: Sinple difference between brand experience and user experience:
Brand experience – top down, strategically planning and overseeing the deployment of integrated experiences
User experience – bottom up, thoughtfully executing the design and deployment of specific experiences

July 9, 2005: Many people operate within a specific, self-defined set of limitations that encourage sub-optimal results, and limit their own growth and development. This sort of linear and natural behaviour is very limiting. If we were able to – either through communication or imposition – create different ordering and juxtaposition of people and systems we could stimulate more optimal systems and environments. (Note: this thought was in specific reaction to learning quite a bit of “behind the curtain” information about someone I know and realizing the incredible effect closing some specific gaps in their life could have)

August 10, 2005: Media turning ephemeral content into permanent content is creating a true simulacra of existence. There is a compression of content happening, one where different cultural messages are being experienced out of context and making it more difficult for people to understand reality. (Note: this came from me flipping past an old WB cartoon and seeing the omnipresent ACME. At the time those artifacts were created, the idea of monopolies and immoral faceless companies juxtaposed with the recent Great Depression made this sort of allusion natural and intuitive. Today, lacking that same cultural context, the underlying messages in the ACME presentation are blurred, as is a sense of cultural clarity)

September 20, 2005: We are consuming media in very different ways as a result of digital technology. For example, thanks to DVR’s, we can easily move through television programs at whatever speed we choose, changing the model of media consumption from broadcast to retrieval. The time is ripe to redesign media to accommodate technological potential, and optimize innovative multimedia formats for people. One example I had was regarding the World Series of Poker. Rather than the single media delivery of today, it could be offered in mutliple different ways: a very detailed and rich version that is more inclusive; the current, edited version; a very short and brief way that only provides very high-level information and highlights. Certainly the media delivery channels can accommodate this sort of an approach, and there is more than enough money being spent in entertainment industries to justify it. We can continue to redefine what it means to experience something: just as “sports highlight shows” have changed how people watch sports, we can take all media consumption off of a linear time progression structure and tell those stories/present the information in better ways. At the extremes, think of Memento as an example of this. We may find that humans prefer non-linear information and media delivery, and should stretch those boundaries farther to improve media experiences.

September 20, 2005: Search technology now is so broken. The Google model – which brought simplicity to chaos – is now passe. Search is SO powerful now, and provides so many results. We need an easier, top-level way to conduct (at least slightly) advanced searches. The current model of either the clumsy generic search or clicking into an advanced search is shameful. I would love someone to hire our company to redefine this interface paradigm!

September 29, 2005: What would be the result if terrorists used weapons of mass destruction to cripple the United States, and/or a chain reaction of developed nations? What is the tipping point; how many cities or systems would need to be obliterated to completely change the world? Then, when that happens, what is the result? Could it be the beginning of decentralized governements? Decentralized communities? Decentralized societies? Is the future more networked than united? What are the implications on health care? Personal safety? Would it be the end of the superpower? What would happen next?

September 29, 2005: We need to do a better job of synthesizing digital tools with lifestyle. This (rather obvious) idea came when I had a speech scheduled and, as I was putting it into my digital calendar, realized it overlapped with my son’s birthday. This led me to think, “Maybe I can fly him in and make a vacation out of it for his birthday!” and made me realize all of the many, many things I would need to do to make it happen. Wouldn’t it be nice if the digital systems made it a seamless process to acheive?

October 4, 2005: As gas prices rose and I was reading more and more articles about how people were coping with it, I realized that many of them were changing their lives in really good ways: walking more. Spending less. Eating less. Replacing media entertainment with more traditional and participatory games. And it made me realize: perhaps (many) humans need external, artificially-imposed constraints in order to be healthy. That is, thanks to the rising gas prices, people would make better choices in order to adapt. This may also help to explain the vital importance of religion as a control mechanism for human behavior, to allow structure and healthy co-existence.

October 4, 2005: I think it would be really valuable to explain decisions on research methods to clients if I had time to create a matrix that shows the relationship between how much time/difficulty a particular research tactic will take, and the nature of its value as a source for information and context.

Actually, I think I will cap it there and hopefully get around to developing some of my more recent ideas…soon!

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