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January 09, 2012

Get a Smart Phone or Die Alone

Before I left Vancouver to live on Salt Spring Island, I used to attend this event called the High Tech Communicator's Exchange (HTCE) organized by a woman named Catherine Ducharme who runs her own Communications firm called OutsideIn.

It was a great way to meet other people who were also interested in technology and new media or whatever you want to call it, especially as it impacts those of us who are/were employed in some aspect of Marketing and Communications. It was a great way to learn often presented in the form of Case Studies.

So, tonight, I went back to HTCE  to hear Shawn Neumann, the president and founder of Domain7 give a talk about Why Mobile Matters to Your Online Marketing Strategy.  What the heck does that mean you ask? It means, what are we going to do if we're in charge of strategizing about communications when it comes to developing appropriate content and reaching the right people at the end of all those smart mobile devices.  Androids. iPods. iPads. iPhones. etc. etc.

I was hearing words like Responsive Web. QR codes. Augmenting reality. HTML5.  Location based promotions. And, you know, having worked in Computer Science at UBC, I just let terminology that means nothing to me roll over me like the rough tongue of a cat alerting me to wake-up and pay attention.  But, tonight, it wasn't the words or the info that was disturbing me even though every speeding bullet of change that technology brings does cause a little bit of anxiety but at least I have faith, proven from past experience, that I can learn so it will be okay. And besides, technology has a way of sounding more complicated than it almost always is once someone explains it in non-geek speak.

What was disturbing to me, however, was that even though I'd only been gone about 3-4 years, somehow I looked around the room and I felt like Rip van Winkle. A mere four years had passed and yet I'd become ancient in that time period.   I was noticing young women with gorgeous hair, perfect make-up, shiny black boots that fit perfectly over their thin calves and thinking to myself, "How could I possibly have aged this much in a mere 4 years?  How did I get so much further to the right on those demographic bar charts?

Well, I'll tell you. On Salt Spring, I hate to admit this, but sometimes I'd roll out of bed and I'd still be wearing the same T-shirt under my sweater that I'd slept in all night. Appearance just wasn't a priority there. I didn't own a full-length mirror for three years. I didn't own a scale. Step onto that island and step into some timeless dimension.

I wasn't looking at myself. I was looking at the beautiful Arbutus trees and paying attention to nature and watching the changes in the clouds. I was looking through my camera's viewfinder, not at the thousands of shades of lipstick in London Drugs. There WAS no London Drugs. I wasn't enticed by a million styles of boots and handbags with brand names that make absolutely no sense like Coach. Coach? I didn't have a TV so I wasn't watching What Not To Wear thinking someone really needs to nominate me for that TV show.

And, if all that physical self comparison wasn't bad enough, when I got back on the Skytrain to come home, it seemed like I was the only one in my compartment who wasn't logged on, plugged in, hooked up, wired.  Completely separate in their togetherness, their fingers scurrying like rodents, craning their necks to see the screens, their beaks almost poking the hardware and then there was me - smartphone-less - with no choice but to observe the cold, digital future of humanity and feel a little more out of touch and a little more anxious.

But, hey, at least now, after HTCE, I'm aware of what I should be paying attention to and as a result I'm feeling a little more clued in about why I'm feeling so clued out.

So, what about you? Got your finger on the pulse? (Not your own that is). Feeling overwhelmed by change? Determined to rage, rage against the dying of the light? How are you going to, as that Heart and Stroke commercial so effectively puts it, "Make Death Wait".

1 comment:

Jo-Anne (jtvancouver) said...

Really enjoyed this post Gayle. I kept up with technology for only so long and then feel like it sped up and left me standing in dust at the side of the road. I don't have any Apple products. When I finally got a cell phone, I had to get one of my more competent (aka younger) coworkers to set it up for me. All of a sudden I was out of the loop. I'm depending on you to keep me up to date now.