At first, it surprised me. Sure, I had authorized Rdio to add songs I played to my Facebook Timeline, largely as an experiment. But when I started seeing 80s hits show up, thanks to some fun I was having with family at home, it took me aback. Do I really want the world knowing that I’ve listened to Roxette?
Mark Zuckerberg calls this “frictionless sharing.” Rather than explicitly clicking a “Like” button or taking another action to share with friends, it happens automatically once we authorize an application to do it on our behalf. Like so much of what Facebook does, it caused controversy, largely in relation to privacy concerns and being even further overwhelmed with information.
But I think “frictionless sharing” hints at something else. Clicking “Like,” as easy as it is, is still a horribly unnatural action. Ditto to “friending” someone on Facebook. In fact, almost everything we do with computers currently is unnatural, relative to the way we interact with the rest of the physical world, including people.
I think the concept of “frictionless” digital interactions will expand, thanks to the adoption of wearable, linguistic and gestural technologies. Think of wearable devices like FitBit, which gives you frictionless health logging, and Google Glass, which overlays a display on the physical world. Think of linguistic interfaces like Siri, which by this fall should be sophisticated enough to let you run third-party apps on your phone. Think of gestural interfaces like Kinect and Leap, which let you control computers with natural body movements.
All of these are moving us further and further away from the horribly unnatural (and damaging) act of sitting at a computer and punching keys. Mobile devices, with their touch screen and gesture-based interfaces, started the trend. But I think that’s just the beginning. Today, you can share songs you play automatically with the world. I think within the next two years, you’ll be playing those songs by asking for them, and your devices will know they served the right song by watching you nod your had and dance to the rhythm.
Social and mobile are certainly important digital trends of the day. But if you want to think a bit ahead for your digital marketing or product development initiatives, you could do worse than consider wearable, linguistic and gestural endeavors.