by Jana Branch
- “Dedigitization,” a term recently coined by cultural commentator Rob Walker, describes virtual goods or iconography retrofitting into the physical world. He cites the smiley emoticon ring or Facebook “Like” rubberstamp.
- Physical to virtual. Virtual to physical. The pendulum swing is part of physics. Vinyl died and came back. Sci-fi characters turned into online avatars still get their day in the real world at Comicon. And as everyone predicts the death of books, expect a new movement of highly prized physical volumes to emerge. Publishing as we know it may die, but books will survive.
- The question raised: What’s the value of the object, whether physical or virtual, to the consumer? Vinyl records pre-CD were a commodity. Today they’re for connoisseurs.
- Online languages like emoticons and Internet slang abbreviations were invented to suit consumers who wanted to type less. But in voice-controlled computing, does anyone really say, “R-O-T-F-L dude!!!!”? The attempt to turn Internet slang into paper novels failed to deliver much value beyond … uh … novelty.
WHAT THIS MEANS TO BUSINESS
- The value of objects and language is context specific. Does the consumer need convenience or a rich sensual experience? That may be the difference between buying the MP3 or the vinyl — or, increasingly, both for different occasions.
- Virtual or physical? Consumers today evaluate “value” with a sophistication that earlier generations — and businesses — never had to contend with.
- It’s not the object or communication. It’s the value it delivers, and it needs to fit the platform, shape or channel.