Link of the week - Secrets, lies and knowing thy customer
How old are you really? Where were you born? Why are so many MySpace users aged over 100? And why are so many online daters young, lithe and driving sports cars?
These are some of the questions Genevieve Bell is employed to ask. Bell is Intel's Director of User Experience, an anthropologist leading a team of social scientists in their mission to learn more about people-how they live, what motivates them-and as illustrated in this presentation, why they lie.
Appearing at the LIFT conference in Geneva, Switzerland, Bell discusses the intricacies and motivations of secrets, lies and cyberspace, asking the big questions: If self-deception a required part of human survival? Are lies and secrets inherently different? How much of your life is shaped by the IT applications you use? And why does Intel employ anthropologists?
Perhaps the answer to this last question is evident in the trends on which Bell reports: knowing how different people operate is essential to providing them with the services they want. And different people can have vastly different wants.
For example, across much of the Middle East, cell phones include software that allows you to orient your phone, and thus yourself, to Mecca. In Italy, more than 3 million people have downloaded a cell phone application that provides daily text messages from the Pope.
Bell's research shows that culture and humanity play a huge role in the popular adoption of technology; perhaps we in the grid world can also learn from the "users" we court, as well as the lies and secrets perhaps cultivated within our own virtual communities.