A little technology tells us a lot about ourselves

Last week I was a panelist on The Guardian’s Higher Education Network discussion about Preventing Social Media Fatigue with plenty of great chat. What came through was there’s plenty of choice and lots to do. In these pioneering days, there’s certainly a social media gold rush. Prospecting platform after platform for the prize that is a soon-to-be-converted consumer or candidate.

With all of these social delights tantalisingly within our reach, it can be easy to forget the key ingredient: understanding human behaviour. An application of technology is only as good as its ability to consider (online) behaviours. Otherwise it’s not social technology.

One human behaviour which is particularly interesting is the desire to help someone who needs it. Why desire this? Showing that your knowledge can enhance someone’s life (to various extents). Also, the empathy one may have with the person who needs help. Both helper and helpee should feel rather good as an outcome. Tap into this and campaigns could get something quite special.

In a world that can feel quite cynical at times, it can be easy to think this human behaviour isn’t the norm. I think it is. We just forget it sometimes. That’s why I like this video about Tweenbots. Little smiley faced robots who have two functions: 1) Too look helplessly cutesy and 2) Wheel blindly in one direction.

With the help of busy New Yorkers, the little fella managed to get to his (or her) desired destination. Amazing.

That says a lot about a basic human instinct we can sometimes forget.  Including people in the world of communications.


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