We have an exciting week ahead, as the first wave of speakers at NEXT Berlin 2012 are announced – but let's pause for a moment for a slightly downbeat look at the post-digital week just gone by.
Why downbeat? Well, because like all important new concepts, post-digital is rapidly being abused, being turned into a prefix appended to any concept to make it sound more relevant. Take the corporate world. All new trends see to get tagged onto businesses: Web 2.0 led to Enterprise 2.0. Social Media lead to the Social Enterprise. And now Deloitte are taking about the Post-Digital Enterprise.
I suspect that the phrase “post-digital” is rapidly moving into the “cool buzzword” phase and is in danger of being rendered meaningless in the transition – after all, what is a “post-digital marketer“? Even the article which uses the phrase is such a throw-away fashion doesn't seem completely sure…
It's not all bad, though. Some people are giving intelligent thought to reshaping working environments in a way that combines both the physical and the digital. And I can't help thinking that the true next stage in the working world will be a complete rethink of both the workplace and the work processes with a post-digital mindset. Post-digital work seems like a rich seam for interrogation…
Simon Jenkins of The Guardian (who's written about post-digital in the past) touches on government's lack of understanding of the human factors required:
Computers are the utopian answer to the ambitions of centralising ministers. No matter that they cannot deliver the subtleties of human discretion required of public servants in the “post-digital” age.
And people's frustrations with governments' inability to get to grips with digital, let alone post-digital, is becoming clear:
It’s the post-digital era; it’s time the government started acting like it. Hopefully NHTSA 2.0 will result in more timely notifications and further reduce the risk of driving a vehicle that has an outstanding safety recall.
For something a bit more in depth, you could have a look at this account of a talk at the Google Firestarters series, curated by Neil Perkin (who has published his own account). Adil Abrar talks about what he and his colleagues delved into:
All our designer-y posturing about post-digital products, frictionless interfaces, embedded devices, beautiful objects, it was all very novel, but it wasn't very useful.
Or at least, it wasn't what was most important.
However, that didn't make our experiments pointless. In fact, it was only by creating probes that prompted new types of behaviour, that we were able to figure out what people really needed.
It's a fascinating look at how mistakes can lead to real learning and progress. Antony Mayfield blogged about it, too.
And clearly, the post-digital world is one to look forward to because, well, we'll get digital placemats…