What does this mean for marketers? The answer is that if you free up and increase the places and ways you can access Digital creative and communications – if you enable the Cloud – you also free up the numbers of people who have access – you enable the Crowd.
How does design and creative have to evolve to meet the needs of marketing and communication in light of the Cloud and Crowd? The principles of the semantic web point the way. The goal of the semantic web is not to make people think more like computers (the old way of web design where the user was not always right) but to make technology think more like humans – with all the quirks that this implies.
Traditional Interaction Design and creativity tends to be rooted in the Physiological and Psychological, smaller scale areas of study. The future of creativity involves moving up the approach hierarchy to focus more on Anthropology and Sociology – to embracing and understanding the way that Crowds behave and connect and then catering accordingly.
This union of the Cloud and the Crowd is the new reality of digital.
The new reality of digital is people helping to shape products and services and then trialing them digitally. The new Internet is useful and real. It is people – not computers – talking to each other, sharing information, entertainment and functionality. It is using and enabling the power of the Crowd and getting them to manipulate and process brands in a useful, productive way.
The marketing motivation behind digital in the new real world is about ‘doing’, about active engagement, both now and in the future. It reflects the famous Lao Tse quote:
What I hear, I forget.
What I say, I remember.
What I do, I understand.
And it is the embodiment of Seymour Papert’s Learning Theory of Constructionism – the belief that people learn most effectively by doing things rather than sitting and listening – in this case applied to brand messages.
The bluring between the product, the social element, the interactive film, the website and the mobile application is already making the difference indistinguishable. As the Cloud grows people are interacting with all spaces. It is not new media any more, and people are coming together as Crowds. They are contributing, developing and sharing, and creative and services need to be responsive, personal, informative and fun. Future creative and marketing needs to reflect the open-source and democratic potential of the Cloud and Crowd.
“Now, people collaborate together to create software, releasing it back onto the web where it outperforms the ‘commercial’ competition. They share information about medical conditions, challenging the authority of the medical establishment. They co-operate to drive down fuel prices, publishing the cheapest price for your postcode. And they join forces to bring down brands who let them down, publishing videos of underperforming products.
The age of the Trilogue has arrived” Andrew Walmsley, Superbrands.
The Cloud is leading to a large range of connections within Crowds – from strong to weak. The weak connections include the direct connections with brands. The strong connections are with each other.
Online Crowds are brought together by common interests – by the niche (and not so niche) ideas and content that they can consume, manipulate and/or contribute. Ask what binds them and it is behaviours and attitudes not ages and incomes. These are the strong connections that technology – and the Cloud – has enabled.
The challenge is how do we make the weak connections stronger and how do we let them have a positive effect on the connected Crowd?
One possible answer is that in this world Brand creative needs to become Brand Reality Creative.