Pro-post-digital folks are often the ones knowing just enough to make everyone else’s lives a misery
This is my final column, so I guess from now on new media age is going to be ‘post me’. I’m fine with that; my work here will be done.
But if there’s one thing that isn’t over it’s digital, which is why I get grumpy when I hear people talking post-digital trash. I understand what they’re trying to say. Hell, some of my best friends are post-digital. They’re suggesting digital is everyday and normal, that it shouldn’t be treated as something special. That ordinary, real people don’t regard digital as something different or extraordinary. And that we should be looking beyond the technology and focusing on human fundamentals.
I have some sympathy for their point of view. It’d be fantastic if technology were an invisible layer of wonderful enablement. But creating digital is far from invisible and effortless, especially for clients and agencies, which still struggle to get their heads around the types of relationships and processes that produce outstanding work.
The post-digerati would, I’m sure, suggest this fine publication should no longer be called new media age. After all the medium is hardly new. But whether you call it new media, digital, interactive or clicky-clicky-magic, the reality is it continues to morph and change the world around it faster and with more impact than almost anything else in history.
To deny there’s an art and a specific skillset required to produce and execute great digital products or advertising is a huge, epic, ostrich-like mistake. To say that any individual or company can turn their hand to it is rubbish. To claim it’s something that can’t be learned or lucked-out by others is equally misguided. But to approach this new world with an ‘old rules still apply’ mentality is naive, shortsighted and foolhardy.
Pro-post-digital folks are often the ones who run around knowing just enough to make everyone else’s lives a misery. Adding just enough technical veneer to their banter to give their equally post-digital clients a sense of uneasy complacency. “Facebook Connect it. API it up. Yeah, it’s all just conversations, innit?” Yes, my friend, in your 20 seconds of easy-to-say, impossible-to-implement blathering you’ve just happily trashed the fundamental principles of the internet and created perhaps the worst, most pointless user-experience in the history of anything.
Of course we need to see beyond the code and emerge on the other side with an accessible human face. But we need to build emotion on top of ‘the digital stuff’ not instead of it. We have to understand the technology, the culture of networked societies, the changed nature of economics, and ignore user experience at our peril.
Let’s not kid ourselves, we’re all still sprinting crazily down a very steep, narrow, rocky path. And if you’re staring glassy-eyed at a double-rainbow on the post-digital horizon, you need to watch out for the big digital boulder or you’ll end up falling on your post-digital arse.