Digital is changing the real world

Digital is changing the real world

Faris Yakob is the chief innovation officer, MDC Partner, holding company of ad agencies including Crispin Porter + Bogusky and kirshenbaum bond senecal + partners and the former EVP Chief Technology Strategist at McCann Erickson NY. He argues that the impact of digital is spilling off the screen into the real world, changing the way we think.

Originally, media was all about recording the world. We wanted to capture what we saw, freeze it in time and space, show other people.

Analogue media forms an attempt to recreate the world faithfully, transposing variations in amplitude and frequency to recreate the impact on our senses. It takes a property of a medium and modulates it to transmit information.

Some Cool Things for the Clios from Faris Yakob on Vimeo.

In analogue sound recording fluctuations in air pressure [that we hear as sounds] strike the diaphragm of a microphone, which induces corresponding fluctuations in the current produced by the electromagnetic microphone. That current is therefore an ‘analog’ of the sound.

The digital revolution transmits data in a different way, representing everything into numbers, and rendering that into binary: discrete on and off states that computers recompile back into representations of the sensorial world.

Eventually though, it became apparent that the relationship between media and the real world, reality and simulacrum, was not one-way.

A medium is a vector, a way to spread thoughts, and these slippery, complex things we call ideas are just as good at changing the world as they are at recording it.

This thing called digital has been encroaching upon the marketing industry. The word has come a long way from the Latin for finger –to represent the great change that is rippling through culture thanks to creation and distribution platforms that are available to all.

The first wave of thinking about it was, appropriately enough, as something discrete: a discipline, a department, something that simply sits alongside the rest of the marketing world.

But it’s not.

The changes begin to spill off the screen, affecting how we encounter companies and each other, changing expectations, changing how we communicate and even how we think.

The industry polarity that starts with analogue and feeds down to digital needs to be entirely reversed, because ‘digital’ is what drives change in the ‘real world’.

Recently, I was asked to compile some ‘cool things’ to present at the Clio Awards.

I had no specific agenda when putting it together, but looking back, all the examples I chose show this change happening – they are digital things interacting with the analogue world.

Projection mapping using the real spaces as an interactive canvas; using Google to get a job interview; remaking Star Wars one fragment at a time; a robot that folds towels; a website that sits on hold for you and then calls you back; and a holographic live show.

All digitally powered, all doing things, changing things in the world.