Dominic Basulto

The Art of Creating Emotional Attachments to Digital Objects

The argument for or against e-books always seems to boil down to one central issue: e-books can not be touched, bookmarked and lovingly annotated in the same way that real books can (sorry, Kindle). The early adopters will always embrace digital content, on whatever device is offered to them. It's the middle- to late-adopters who need an additional emotional connection to that digital content before they will embrace tablets and e-books. The current approach to "flipping pages" on a tablet is a cute start, of course, but there's more that can be done to create emotional attachments to digital objects.

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Clean Energy, Bloom Boxes and the End of the Power Grid As We Know It

Walk down the street of any community in America and look up - what do you see? A mass of tangled wires that comprise the high-voltage transmissions lines of the nation's power grid. If you're like most people, the wires are almost invisible to you in everyday life -- the only time you might notice them is when there's a down power line after a massive thunder storm. But the idea of buying electricity that has been stored and then transmitted over hundreds of miles of power lines by a monopoly power provider (i.e. your local utility) is, quite frankly, anachronistic.

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The Digital Tablet: Creating an Alternative to "Lean Forward" or "Lean Back"

During the peak of the social media revolution, "lean forward" was one of the buzzwords that was bandied about quite often to explain the changing habits of media consumption. The term “lean forward” implied a deeper engagement with the content, rather than just passive consumption - the type of content that you'd share with your friends on Facebook, tweet about on Twitter and interact with in real-time.

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Pandas, Smart Grids and the Power of Design Thinking to Change Behaviors

While a number of leading technology companies (IBM, Cisco, HP) have launched impressive Smart Grid initiatives, the broader public still doesn't really understand why the "Smart Grid" is so important to our nation's energy future. IBM has been somewhat successful in explaining the concept via its Smarter Planet initiative, but the concept is - I'm sorry - still a bit too wonkish for most people. (It's a bit like trying to explain Quantitative Easing to investors concerned about their portfolios - they know the concept is important, but their eyes glaze over as soon as you start mentioning the finer points of monetary policy.) So what would it take for the concept Smart Grid to really take off in the public mainstream?

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Making Sense of the Retro-Digital Movement

We're experiencing a retro-digital (or is post-digital?) movement in the tech world: just today, I read about a gaming company (Discovery Bay Games) that has figured out to convert your bright, shiny Apple iPad into the type of tabletop board game that you played decades ago.

 

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How Live Performances Are Changing the Way We Think about Design

The current issue of Wallpaper* magazine - in addition to its feature on the global Design Awards 2011 Winners - has a wonderfully thought-provoking article about the growing popularity of "live performances" in the design world. In short, design is moving from a mysterious, tightly-guarded secret that happens behind closed doors to something that is performed in full public view:

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The Future of Visual Storytelling: From The Last Supper to the iPad Tablet

Of late, I've been thinking a lot about visual storytelling and the various ways that the Internet and digital devices like the iPad require us to process information and content. Over the past decade, there has been an astounding rise in the value of visual literacy -- the ability to process information and content that is delivered via images rather than text. When you think about it, all of the most popular forms of new Internet content - whether infographics, casual games or video clips - place a premium on visual storytelling. At the end of the day, the Apple iPad is primarily a device for consuming visual content.

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Kickstarter, Tim Ferriss and a New Pricing Model for Creative Assets

Ever since the introduction of the iTunes music store, I was under the impression that $0.99 would become the default price for all digital content. One way or another, content would be continually sliced and diced into ever-smaller pieces of micro-content, such that the market-clearing price for that content would become $0.99. Then I ran into Kickstarter, the innovative crowdfunding site for artistic and creative projects.

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Evocative Objects: Designing for Emotion and Empathy

Why do we love our digital devices? The answer might surprise you -- it's not because they look good, feel good or are somehow aspirational of where we want to be in life. It's because they are increasingly becoming a "second self" that we carry with ourselves wherever we go.

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This Side of Content Paradise: Experiential Content and the Future of the Web

It's almost a cliche these days to say that the Web is accelerating the move toward an attention-deficit disorder literary culture that celebrates the 140-character tweet but has a hard time digesting the 140-page book. We're constantly reminded that the Web is somehow making us stupid, but I'm starting to wonder if the next iteration of the Web - helped along by the explosion of new content experiences made possible by the iPad and the innovative programming capabilities of HTML5 - could actually lead to a backlash of sorts against short-form content culture and a renewed celebration of deep, experiential content.

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