I know this brilliant socio-linguist who’s a professor at Columbia University and she had this incredibly paradigm-shifting insight yesterday. She said “you’re always talking about experience, the consumer experience, as if experience was something you can simply build and give to someone. It’s such a passive way of looking at things. And it’s totally wrong.”
Wow. Totally wrong. OK, she went to say that in language and in life, we do to become who we are. We interract with the language around us to create our own language identity-the accents, the choice of words, even the grammar. I like that idea. My brother retains his Lower East Side accent even though he lives in Florida now while I decided in high school (I can still remember that decision) to lose it and my language is now more mainstreamed , even though I live on the Upper West Side, not very far from the old neighborhood. I created my own language identity.
And so for consumers. Today, enabling people to create their own identities may be the Next Big Thing in design and innovation. The iPod is really a set of tools to allow you to build your own personal music library. Cell phones allow you to shape your own communication system. Ditto for MySpace.
Identity goes was beyond mass personalization, which is a passive concept. It is much more in tune with CK Prahalad’s co-construction ideas.
Identity, the next step after experience. I like that. I think that will be the topic of my speech tomorrow at Peter Lawrence’s @issue conference in NYC.
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