Up until this century, information was generally associated with a place: clustered around the radio for FDR’s fireside chats; at the kitchen table talking on the telephone; lounging in the living room watching The Ed Sullivan Show; surfing the web on the desktop at work. Well, the phone is now in my pocket and I’m listening to music on my iPod while downloading a movie on the iPad -- or maybe all of this is happening on one device. The point is, these events are not occurring within the context of their own unique place -- rather, these events are occurring where I’m at. I am the place.
The boundaries of where and when information is received began to blur with the advent of the web and have disappeared completely with the combination of wifi + mobile devices. I am the place. I now expect information to be where I’m at rather than my having to be at the one place and the one time where information is delivered. Finally, it’s all about me.
What does this mean? Well, we need to rethink how we design products. Rather than starting with the end (let’s design a website!), we need to start up front with delivery and act (what information is relevant to where the user is at and what they’re doing). It’s a different way of thinking but it’s an important distinction to understand in order to design products that are relevant in today’s culture.