It's interesting the way that the perception of technology has radically shifted. Until a few years ago, technology was the driving force behind life simplification, resource optimisation and gadgetry. We all fell in love with technology - it saved us having to queue in banks, saved us money on travel and saved us from infinite boredom with newfound access to limitless entertainment and information at our fingertips. Then, almost without us realising it, technology got a whole lot more personal and we're falling in love with it all over again. Helped along by the overwhelming influence of the rapidly evolving Generation ME, a generation that takes it for granted that the self comes first.
Living in a technology dominated world, with social lives played out in public on the internet, some could say that Generation Me has been perpetuated by social networking and digital dialogue. It certainly is a major driver, but a challenging one for brands to master on mass scale , when Attention is the economic currency and demand far outstrips supply 10,000 to 1.
Once lambasted for its de-humanising qualities, technology has almost single-handedly fostered a mass culture of electronic communications and hyper-connectedness. Yet it's the technological developments that put the individual more and more at the control panel for their lives that we're really besotted with. The difference is that instead of trying to become part of the complex set of digital conversations, these technological initiatives draw attention and are conversation starters in their own right. Lot better odds - and it doesn't have to be complex - just centred around Me.
Take Grazia's Spring/Summer 09/10 FashionWeek photowall (http://grazia.ninemsn.com.au/rosemount-australian-fashion-week-photo-wall). Using silverlight technology, I have one view (high resolution), instantaneous access (no more than moments for upfront downloading time) to every one of the 780 outfits featured across every collection. You may say this isn't terribly Me focused? It is when I can choose to go in so close as to actually see the brandname on the side of a pair of sunglasses or the left ankle tatoo on one particular catwalk model. This is my magnifying glass to the fashion industry and I can engage as deep or as little as I like. Everything totally within my control.
XBox plays straight into the hearts and minds of Generation Me with it's soon to be released Project Natal motion controller in the XBox 360. What makes Project Natal so cool is you become the controls; an in-built camera tracks your full body movement in 3-D, while responding to commands, directions and even a shift of emotion in your voice. You can move through menus by swiping your hands back and forth. There's facial and voice recognition that will automatically recognise and remember you. Xbox has realised that I am never more interested than when everything revolves around Me.
One of the strongest symbols of Generation Me has to be the mobile phone. Life totally revolves around Me and My mobile phone. I want to know who's calling before I decide to answer, I need to be contactable (online or onphone) at anytime of the day or night and I must be able to manage my life (social and otherwise) wherever I am, at any particular moment. The basic functionality of the online mobile phone is only just starting to gear up for the Me Generation. We are already starting to see a proliferation of Me-focused apps that make the world around us, more Me-Centric. One notable example is mobile phone music recognition Apps. Love the song you're hearing in the Bar at 11pm. Need to have it now. Just point your mobile towards the speaker .... it records a segment, then tells you the name of the song and artist and gives you a link so you can download it to your mobile....immediately. http://www.shazam.com/music/web/home.html
Mass marketers are just touching the tip of the iceberg of getting intune with the Me Generation; a generation that loves brands, widgets and marketing - despite all their protestations. Marketers (and agencies) are potentially becoming too single-mindedly focused on working out how to ride the wave of social networking and UGC. It must be noted that the only point of connectivity and digital dialogue for a brand, is if it shifts your bottom line. brand perception or market share. So get inside the heads of the Me Generation (and lets face it, they're anyone from 15-35yrs). Cut to the chase with these guys. Create products, technology and comms that are the antithesis of marketing. Me Gen are open to marketing, as long as it's real and comes from a place of genuine understanding of who they are and what turns them on. The key into this lucrative generation is to be totally and utterly Me-focused. It should feel like the generation themselves actually came up with the idea or the style. And technology, in whatever form, is one vehicle that they absolutely love and want to participate with.
There's never been a better time to get personal!