Do you know you’ve likely achieved something that has landed you on the front page of a major American publication?
This isn’t a joke – or a gimmick to get you to buy into something. Perhaps you don’t have the slightest desire to proceed onwards to find out. If you do, just keep on reading.
In 2006, Time magazine decided to make a bold statement of its annual, much-anticipated accolade. For the first time since 1927, this leading American publication chose not to award its coveted “Person of the Year” recognition to a specific individual or group of individuals.
True, there had been times when the title had been changed to accomodate momentous advancements in science (“The Computer” was honored in 1982 as “Machine of the Year”) or to commemorate awareness of global issues (“The Endangered Earth” grabbed the prize in 1988).
But this time, things would be different.
No stranger to the public’s appetite for its content and ever-cognizant of the social recognition such a move could set off, Time recognized “You,” as its “Person of the Year” in 2006.
Not surprisingly, nobody’s portrait adorned the cover. The design was simple – three typeface letters and a period- on a blank backdrop below a screenshot of Youtube’s now-ubiquitous video window:
Nor is much of anything particularly eye-catching, perhaps deliberately so. Did the designers purposely minimize the font at the bottom of the cover to draw attention to the rest of the page? I don’t know and frankly, I don’t much care. For me, it’s the hard-to-read writing at the bottom that carries the most weight.
This website is my first serious attempt at calling a small piece of the Internet my own. As the magazine cover makes clear, individuals now control the Information Age. The playing field has never been this open. Never before in history has so much information been shared among humanity so quickly. For those who have access to this precious resource, it is the ultimate marketplace of ideas and an unrivaled forum for free speech.
But what about those who don’t?
Since 2006, the Internet has powered revolutions, toppled dictators, and given millions a voice. It has also been blamed for destroying small businesses, hosting libraries of untold quantities of illegal media, and infringing on countless individuals’ rights and liberties. Its ability to pry into the private sphere continues to lend it considerable notoriety and suspicion.
For what’s it worth – like Time - I’m an optimist when it comes to pondering the future of the Information Age.
With the Consumer at Heart
With the proliferation of the Internet and web-based tools, we find it increasingly difficult to remove ourselves from technology in our daily lives. The arrival of mobile platforms and their continuing evolution spurs an ever-increasing desire to derive the most amount of benefit from technology in as efficient a manner as possible.
My generation – affectionately termed Generation Y by our predecessors- is the last clade of the human species that remembers life before the Internet (B.I). But it was us who benefited the most from all the advancements the Information Age has delivered. We powered Apple’s comeback – it was our voracious appetite for the iPod that led to an entire library of “i” products and a multi-billion dollar scramble to place the consumer at the center of attention. Entire industries have grown up around this idea in the past decade. And not surprisingly, they happen to employ many thousands of the same people who fueled this transformation in the first place. Including me, a proud member of Generation Y.
The Struggle for Simplicity
Ever since I immersed myself professionally in the world of information technology, I’ve gained enormous insight into its potential to redefine the way we live. It’s a growing field with a lots of promise, led by individuals who are visionaries in their own right. There is no shortage of ideas – or of the brains required to realize those ideas – some of which are sure to dislodge the limits of what we currently believe is possible.
The struggle, then, is in incorporating the very best ideas and creating products that are not only intuitive, but also simple to use. It is this struggle for simplicity that is at the heart of the battles being waged by the titans of the technology world today.
For outsiders, that is to say those who are not “in the know” of what’s happening behind the scenes, technology is advancing too quickly – it’s impossible to keep up. By the time a (post-Generation Y) teenager has enough money saved up for a laptop or phone, the next edition will likely be released. For those who find themselves approaching the mandatory age of retirement, the challenge is even more arduous. In my line of work, I’ve had the privilege of speaking one-on-one with consumers of some of the most reputable electronic modules available in my industry (healthcare IT). Time and again I’ve had to confront what I’ve diagnosed as the “Face of Frustration.”
The Face of Frustration
“I swear I saw it a minute ago – there was a little button that allowed me to review my progress note,” the physician told me excitedly. I stepped in to see what he was referring to, only to realize he had somehow navigated to the wrong screen.
“It’s right here,” I tell him, “Sometimes the screen plays tricks on you when you move from page to page.”
“Huh, that’s weird,” he says, the furrows on his forehead more visible than before. “Is there a way for you to make that more obvious, so that I can get to it easier?”
“Sure,” I respond – walking him through the steps. A few minutes later, everyone in the surgical suite wants the same thing. By the end of the day, they’ve gained confidence in a system that just a few hours prior had been likened to the bane of their professional existence.
I just gave you a realistically fictional scenario of what I’ve seen quite a few times on my business trips at client locations nationwide. I implement and support electronic medical record software, which puts me in proximity to physicians and ancillary healthcare providers on a daily basis. In a nutshell, my job is to identify anything that may lead to the infamous “Face of Frustration” and eliminate it. You could say I seek and destroy any “forces” behind frustration.
That is the direction I see the technology world moving into. Streamlining processes, improving workflows, removing the clutter that makes computers daunting and replacing it with tools that are fun to use and addictive . You want to keep folks coming back for more and ensure that they are recommending what they learn to others. That’s how you take something good and transform it into a force to be reckoned with. In other words, a “force behind fulfillment.”