Illustration: Sandra Kuan
Have you ever stopped to reflect on the fact that the best things happen by mistake or through unforeseen contributions? Well, it happens. Alexander Fleming invented penicillin by mistake. He went on holidays leaving a bacteria culture on a bench for two weeks. Spencer Silver, with the intention of developing a powerful glue, invented the popular Post-it note together with Arthur Fry.
We reinvent things all the time and are constantly changing the use of common objects to meet our needs. My grandfather’s trunk from WWI is now a valuable piece of furniture in my living room. This happens in the world of digital too.
Facebook was born with the purpose of providing students with a digital yearbook. Today, this social network has become a social utility platform through which more than 500 million people share opinions and information, play games, watch movies, and speak to brands and companies.
Twitter is a powerful micro-blogging platform, but many use it simply as a feed-aggregator: a way to receive real-time news updates from their favourite daily paper. Some correctly employ it to share their life with friends and followers. The most significant example being the live-tweets by @ReallyVirtual during the Osama bin Laden raid.
A few days ago, I heard an amusing example of digital reinvention. A friend of mine, who is addicted to geolocalization, transformed his colleague’s desk into a “place” on Foursquare and after a few “check-ins” acquired his Mayorship!
What this demonstrates is the need to observe how people interact with their digital environment in order to create digital utility tools for everyday life. Digital agencies, companies and brands need to keep in mind that what they create can always be reinvented. It’s a reminder that people have the power.
What digital tool or service heavily influences your everyday life?