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TED2009

Renny Gleeson: Our antisocial phone tricks

February 6, 2009

In this funny (and actually poignant) 3-minute talk, social strategist Renny Gleeson breaks down our always-on social world -- where the experience we're having right now is less interesting than what we'll tweet about it later.

Renny Gleeson - Skeptimist
Renny Gleeson helps navigate brands through fresh concepts, such as viral marketing and social media, to find the pulse of the modern consumer. Full bio

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Double-click the English subtitles below to play the video.
What I wanted to talk to you about today is two things:
00:12
one, the rise of a culture of availability;
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and two, a request.
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So we're seeing a rise of this availability
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being driven by mobile device proliferation,
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globally, across all social strata.
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We're seeing, along with that proliferation of mobile devices,
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an expectation of availability.
00:31
And, with that, comes the third point,
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which is obligation -- and an obligation to that availability.
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And the problem is, we're still working through,
00:38
from a societal standpoint,
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how we allow people to be available.
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There's a significant delta, in fact,
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between what we're willing to accept.
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Apologies to Hans Rosling --
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he said anything that's not using real stats is a lie --
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but the big delta there
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is how we deal with this from a public standpoint.
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So we've developed certain tactics and strategies
00:59
to cover up.
01:02
This first one's called "the lean."
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And if you've ever been in a meeting where you play sort of meeting "chicken,"
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you're sitting there, looking at the person, waiting for them to look away,
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and then quickly checking the device.
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Although you can see the gentleman up on the right is busting him.
01:14
"The stretch."
01:17
OK, the gentleman on the left is saying, "Screw you,
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I'm going to check my device."
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But the guy, here, on the right,
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he's doing the stretch.
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It's that reeeee-e-e-each out, the physical contortion
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to get that device just below the tabletop.
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Or, my favorite, the "Love you; mean it."
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(Laughter)
01:34
Nothing says "I love you"
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like "Let me find somebody else I give a damn about."
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Or, this one, coming to us from India.
01:40
You can find this on YouTube,
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the gentleman who's recumbent on a motorcycle
01:44
while text messaging.
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Or what we call the "sweet gravy, stop me before I kill again!"
01:47
That is actually the device.
01:51
What this is doing is, we find a --
01:54
(Laughter)
01:56
a direct collision --
01:58
we find a direct collision between availability --
02:02
and what's possible through availability --
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and a fundamental human need -- which we've been hearing about a lot, actually --
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the need to create shared narratives.
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We're very good at creating personal narratives,
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but it's the shared narratives that make us a culture.
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And when you're standing with someone,
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and you're on your mobile device,
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effectively what you're saying to them is,
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"You are not as important as, literally,
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almost anything that could come to me through this device."
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Look around you.
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There might be somebody on one right now,
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participating in multi-dimensional engagement.
02:39
(Laughter)
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Our reality right now is less interesting
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than the story we're going to tell about it later.
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This one I love.
02:50
This poor kid, clearly a prop --
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don't get me wrong, a willing prop --
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but the kiss that's being documented kind of looks like it sucks.
02:56
This is the sound of one hand clapping.
02:59
So, as we lose the context of our identity,
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it becomes incredibly important
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that what you share becomes the context of shared narrative,
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becomes the context in which we live.
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The stories that we tell -- what we push out --
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becomes who we are.
03:17
People aren't simply projecting identity,
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they're creating it.
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And so that's the request I have for everybody in this room.
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We are creating the technology
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that is going to create the new shared experience,
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which will create the new world.
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And so my request is,
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please, let's make technologies
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that make people more human,
03:34
and not less.
03:36
Thank you.
03:38

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Renny Gleeson - Skeptimist
Renny Gleeson helps navigate brands through fresh concepts, such as viral marketing and social media, to find the pulse of the modern consumer.

Why you should listen

Renny Gleeson is a skeptical/optimist. He leads interactive strategy for ad agency Wieden+Kennedy who started his career as a game developer. He has been wondering what we can learn about ourselves through the millions of deaths taking place inside video games. He serves on the board of directors of Rhizome.org and is the co-founder of the PIE tech accelerator in Portland, Oregon. A mentor for tech accelerators and startups worldwide, he believes stories -- from cave paintings to interfaces to video games -- shape worlds.

The original video is available on TED.com
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