The Tech Humanist Show: Episode 14 – Neil Redding

About this episode’s guest:

Neil Redding is Founder and CEO of Redding Futures—a boutique consultancy that enables brands and businesses to engage powerfully with the Near Future. His rare multidisciplinary perspective draws on the craft of software engineering, the art of brand narrative and expression, and the practice of digital-physical experience strategy. Prior to founding Redding Futures, Neil held leadership roles at Mediacom, Proximity/BBDO, Gensler, ThoughtWorks and Lab49.

He tweets as @NeilRedding.

This episode streamed live on Thursday, October 15, 2020. Here’s an archive of the show on YouTube:

About the show:

The Tech Humanist Show is a multi-media-format program exploring how data and technology shape the human experience. Hosted by Kate O’Neill.

Subscribe to The Tech Humanist Show hosted by Kate O’Neill channel on YouTube for updates.

Transcript

01:03
hello
01:04
humans
01:05
[Laughter]
01:07
all right welcome to the tech humanist
01:09
show come on in start gathering around
01:12
i am of course your host kate o’neil
01:15
it’s nice to see
01:16
some numbers turning up so it would be
01:19
lovely to start associating those
01:21
numbers with names so feel free to go
01:22
ahead and
01:23
pop into your comments and type in a
01:25
little greeting from wherever you are
01:28
let me know from let me know you’re
01:29
online and that you’re out there
01:31
say hello and tell me where you’re
01:32
joining in from if you like also
01:34
today we’re going to be talking a lot
01:36
about the near future of retail
01:38
and immersive experiences and other
01:41
related topics
01:42
also maybe portuguese pastries so feel
01:45
free to just start
01:46
thinking of what your questions and
01:48
comments are related to any of those
01:50
things
01:51
and you can start asking those questions
01:53
in the comments
01:54
uh or just hold on to them until the
01:56
moment when
01:57
you feel like it’s the right the right
01:59
moment to pop that question
02:01
into the chat so
02:04
but keep on saying hello and checking in
02:06
and i’ll just go through some of our
02:09
information for the people who are
02:10
tuning in later
02:12
in time uh finding this later when it’s
02:15
an archive
02:16
hello to those of you in the future from
02:18
those of us in the past
02:20
we appreciate you uh as you know this is
02:23
a
02:23
multimedia as you may know this is a
02:25
multimedia format program so that means
02:27
that as i’m speaking it’s being
02:29
broadcast live but it’ll also live on as
02:31
an archive
02:32
on the multiple channels where it’s
02:33
streaming so people can always find it
02:35
later
02:36
so yeah uh there are some of you who are
02:39
going to be seeing that
02:40
and then also each episode gets turned
02:42
into a podcast the following week so
02:44
as we have this conversation today on
02:47
thursday
02:48
this episode will be an audio podcast
02:50
next friday
02:51
so keep an eye out for that and every
02:53
week we explore different facets of how
02:55
data and technology shape the human
02:57
experience
02:58
i hope you’ll subscribe or follow and
03:00
just stay tuned for
03:02
further conversations there are a lot of
03:04
great guests coming up but let’s not
03:05
waste any more time let’s just get to
03:08
the guest we have today
03:10
one other note though is that as a live
03:12
show we will do our best to
03:14
you know vet comments and questions in
03:16
real time we want you to be part of the
03:18
conversation we want you interacting and
03:20
you know having the conversation with us
03:22
but we might not get to all
03:24
the questions or comments so we very
03:26
much appreciate you being here i very
03:28
much appreciate you being here and
03:29
chatting with us
03:30
and just generally participating in the
03:31
show
03:33
so now to introduce our guest
03:36
today we are chatting with my friend
03:39
neil redding
03:40
who is founder and ceo of reading
03:42
futures it’s a boutique consultancy that
03:44
enables brands and businesses to engage
03:47
powerfully with the near future
03:50
his rare multi-disciplinary perspective
03:52
draws on the craft of software
03:54
engineering
03:54
the art of brand narrative and
03:56
expression and the practice of digital
03:58
physical experience strategy
04:00
prior to founding writing futures neil
04:02
held leadership roles at mediacom
04:05
proximity bbdo gensler thoughtworks and
04:08
lab49
04:09
so audience please keep getting those
04:12
questions ready
04:13
for our outstanding guest and with that
04:15
please welcome
04:16
my friend neil redding neil you are live
04:20
on
04:20
the tech humanist show thank you so much
04:22
for joining us
04:23
okay thank you so much for inviting me
04:25
it’s fantastic to be here great to see
04:27
you again yeah
04:28
a little bit of distance a little across
04:30
a little bit of distance normally
04:31
you know normally neil and i get
04:33
together and have uh coffee
04:35
at maybe la pan quattridienne in the
04:37
columbus circle
04:38
but we haven’t been able to do that
04:39
anyway this year
04:42
so are they closed now i think they are
04:44
right yeah so i think there was like a
04:45
bankruptcy thing with the company that
04:47
owns
04:47
or with with le pen quotidienne and then
04:49
i think they actually liquidated the
04:51
american holdings and another company
04:53
bought them yeah so there’s the scooter
04:56
lpq so hopefully we’ll be able to go
04:58
back to our coffee spot at some point
05:01
but right now uh you are in lisbon right
05:05
it’s true i’m in lisbon yeah and i think
05:07
uh as when you mention portuguese
05:09
pastries i think the
05:10
first thing i instagrammed when i got to
05:11
lisbon um
05:13
a little less than two weeks ago was uh
05:15
pastel de nata
05:17
which is this portuguese egg custard uh
05:20
pastry and i think you were like first
05:22
things first right i mean this is
05:24
you gotta do you know you gotta have
05:26
your priorities absolutely on top of
05:27
your list when you get somewhere i mean
05:29
yeah and
05:29
we’ve been here before uh once and yeah
05:32
it’s
05:32
they are super delicious so yeah so uh
05:36
i think i mentioned this like every week
05:38
that i’m vegan so
05:39
it was funny for me when i was in lisbon
05:41
because i had seen a lot of
05:43
sort of um promotion about those
05:46
pastries going when i was heading to
05:48
lisbon and i was like ah it’s going to
05:50
be a bummer not to be able to
05:52
to find them maybe there will be a vegan
05:53
equivalent i found like four different
05:55
versions that were vegan yeah
05:57
i tried them all they were so good
06:01
yeah you know it’s funny yeah they’re
06:03
actually it’s a it’s amazing um
06:06
there’s a lot of vegan cuisine here too
06:08
it really is last night we went to a
06:10
nepalese restaurant that had a whole
06:13
separate vegan menu and the guy who runs
06:15
it which
06:15
was very excitingly promoting it to us
06:17
even though we weren’t ordering from it
06:18
oh very cool let your vegan friends know
06:21
yeah
06:21
well and you just did i did so
06:24
and now you traveled to lisbon what you
06:26
said like two weeks ago
06:28
a little under two weeks yeah and you’re
06:31
wondering how right
06:32
yeah yeah i was just gonna say i you and
06:34
i have already chatted since then and i
06:35
kind of got the lowdown but
06:37
is there any aspect of the story you
06:39
would be willing to share with our
06:40
viewers and listeners you know um
06:44
i feel a little bit guilty you know
06:46
because like plenty of new york friends
06:48
and just american friends just like i’m
06:49
so jealous like how did you do that well
06:52
i it goes back to being born by
06:55
uh born to an irish citizen mom
06:58
and so i inherited that citizenship
07:00
which is eu citizenship which
07:02
allows myself and my close family
07:05
including my wife to be exempt from the
07:07
current travel ban from the u.s so that
07:09
was really the main reason and i also
07:10
have
07:12
work here that um i had a letter from a
07:15
company that i’m working
07:16
with here so but it turns out the work
07:17
wasn’t even required so
07:19
it’s kind of the citizenship thing so it
07:22
was without incident or
07:23
or was there anything that uh that
07:25
happened along the way
07:27
it was pretty much without incident
07:30
it was shockingly without incident
07:32
actually through i mean
07:34
you know the delta folks at jfk made
07:36
sure that i was an eu citizen and that
07:39
kylian was traveling with me as my wife
07:40
we had to show a marriage certificate
07:42
etc
07:42
but then in in france and paris charles
07:45
de gaulle
07:46
like they literally didn’t care at all
07:47
they didn’t say anything they just said
07:48
go ahead and then we got to lisbon and
07:50
they didn’t even talk to
07:51
they didn’t see a border point so it was
07:53
kind of weird you know
07:54
and you know today
07:58
given like just today there are new
08:00
restrictions right i mean
08:01
in the news in portugal as well as
08:03
france
08:04
yeah so i mean not heavy restrictions
08:08
but um you know just limiting indoor
08:10
capacity limiting the number of people
08:12
that can gather outside of certain kinds
08:14
of gatherings and so on but um
08:17
yeah hopefully portugal is still gonna
08:19
be chill about all of us i mean they’ve
08:21
been doing really well relative to the
08:22
rest of europe
08:24
i think a lot of it is people are
08:25
outside and the weather’s still
08:27
warm you know so it makes a big
08:29
difference um
08:31
in terms of safety and but yeah now
08:33
masks are required everywhere so
08:35
anyway my point is just that we got in
08:37
almost two weeks ago if we came now or
08:39
next week
08:40
maybe we wouldn’t i don’t know yeah yeah
08:42
i had seen the
08:43
the uh curfew in paris but i hadn’t seen
08:44
any any announcement about what was
08:46
happening in
08:47
portugal so yeah hopefully it’s actually
08:49
on these roundups right because
08:51
it’s like too small to be mentioned on
08:52
these lists which is kind of a bonus you
08:54
know when you’re
08:55
when you’re trying to travel it’s like
08:57
they just they’re they’re too small to
08:58
be too concerned about
09:00
well i hope it stays a good experience
09:02
for you so uh
09:03
thank you well let’s get into into your
09:06
work you know you actually mentioned
09:07
that you know you’re there to do some
09:08
work so
09:09
is it seems like what’s what’s
09:11
interesting to me is you know you
09:12
describe yourself
09:13
or your work is as a near futurist
09:16
so why do you call yourself that first
09:19
of all yeah
09:20
it’s a good question i mean um a few
09:22
things one is that
09:23
uh it’s a term that’s not used and i
09:26
think you know
09:27
near future whenever i’ve just used the
09:29
term i started using it um
09:31
most of a year ago to talk about you
09:34
know i created this publication near
09:35
future of retail
09:36
with a good friend of mine tony parisi
09:38
who runs our vr brand strategy at unity
09:41
and so we are looking at how technology
09:44
is advancing retail and that
09:46
publication um but in that context we
09:50
started to realize that near future
09:52
um as distinct from you know the
09:55
sort of indefinite future or futurism
09:57
which i i think is
09:59
also tied or or
10:02
about projecting the indefinite future
10:05
near futurism
10:06
or the near future is distinct you know
10:08
in the way i think about it in the sense
10:10
that it’s
10:11
you know a little bit arbitrarily we say
10:12
the next three to five years i mean now
10:14
during covet it feels like that’s a
10:16
really far horizon
10:18
right but right like no one can think i
10:20
mean
10:21
when covet first hit i think people were
10:23
just like i can’t even think about the
10:24
next three to five hours or days you
10:26
know but um
10:27
but it feels you know from a technology
10:29
perspective i mean you and i think
10:30
understand this that that
10:32
we can see based on what’s emerging now
10:37
what can emerge you know plausibly over
10:39
the next three to five years and so
10:40
therefore
10:41
um the near future is an actionable
10:45
time frame which as a technologist and
10:47
someone who you know as you described
10:48
earlier kind of grew up through software
10:50
engineering
10:51
i care a lot about building things and
10:53
making tangible
10:54
impact you know creating things that
10:55
have functional value and utility
10:57
and so it’s kind of near futurism is
11:00
really about bridging
11:01
the the sort of more distant more
11:03
visionary futurism with what can
11:05
uh be actionable today you know for
11:07
brands and businesses
11:09
well do you find yourself you mentioned
11:10
building things do you find yourself
11:12
with the opportunity to to build very
11:14
often these days i think of you
11:15
as mostly doing a lot of consulting is
11:17
that is that um
11:18
true of of the work that you’re doing or
11:20
are you finding an opportunity to keep
11:21
your hand in
11:23
uh really both i mean so yes primarily
11:26
at this point
11:27
although i did kind of grow up
11:29
professionally doing software
11:30
engineering and then
11:31
custom software consulting you know i’ve
11:33
really gradually transitioned into more
11:36
creative strategic leadership and and
11:39
those kinds of roles and working more
11:40
with senior executives at clients you
11:43
know and so at that level there’s more
11:46
vision and strategy and um kind of
11:49
strategic framing
11:50
of the upcoming months and years you
11:53
know of a
11:54
brand or business but um i do
11:57
you know inevitably continue to
11:59
prototype to understand new apis and new
12:01
technologies you know i don’t code for
12:03
production anymore is the way i describe
12:05
it but i
12:06
in order to understand certain kinds of
12:08
technology capabilities it’s important i
12:10
think to
12:11
continue to have my hands in it yeah so
12:13
so i do play with things you know
12:15
on the nights and weekends you know just
12:17
to understand them and i also have
12:18
i’m close friends with a lot of you know
12:21
amazing software engineers and
12:23
developers so i kind of
12:24
uh leverage them shall we say you know
12:27
to kind of stay on top of
12:29
topics that i don’t have time to kind of
12:30
explore directly myself so
12:32
yeah that’s relatable that feels like to
12:34
me that’s been most of the way that i’ve
12:36
kept
12:37
abreast of what’s going on with
12:39
different changes in the market and i
12:40
didn’t mean any slight against
12:41
consultants
12:42
obviously so i am one myself but i just
12:45
wonder you also mentioned strategy
12:47
during
12:48
your your answer and that made me wonder
12:51
you know how do you conceive of the
12:53
difference between
12:55
futurism and strat or near futurism and
12:57
strategy
12:59
yeah it’s a good question i think
13:05
so i think strategy can be applied i
13:07
mean it’s a very broad concept right so
13:09
like i’ve i’ve
13:10
worked with in a how would i say
13:14
in creative agencies or ad agencies
13:17
strategy is thought of differently than
13:18
it is at say
13:20
gensler where i led digital experience
13:21
design and they have strategists there
13:22
that are focused on the built
13:23
environment which i know you share a lot
13:25
of interest in that
13:26
um strategy you know and then there’s
13:29
business strategy that c-suite you know
13:31
and boards of directors engage in you
13:33
know at the business level but
13:34
um i think near futurism as a
13:38
practice which is really something i’m
13:40
kind of evolving and figuring out to be
13:43
honest you know
13:43
is about strategy
13:47
for a slightly longer timeline than just
13:49
the current moment right so for example
13:51
if you do strategy for an ad campaign or
13:53
you do
13:54
you know brand strategy for you know a
13:56
rebranding
13:57
or positioning a brand or business for
14:00
the coming
14:01
for the current moment right you’ll
14:03
you’re going to look at what’s the
14:04
current state of the market you know
14:05
what are
14:06
customer and demographic kind of
14:08
sentiments and trends you know at the
14:10
moment it’s very momentary i think
14:12
generally right whereas the kind of
14:15
strategy that i would call near futurism
14:17
that we build into our near future
14:18
framework as a
14:19
strategic framework and road mapping
14:21
tool is focused on
14:23
that coming few years you know so it
14:26
really looks at the trajectories of
14:27
change that
14:28
as we currently understand them both
14:30
emerging technology but also
14:32
shifts in business model shifts in uh
14:35
disruption in certain marketplaces
14:37
certain industries like for clients that
14:38
we work for
14:39
and then even cultural shifts and and
14:41
sometimes even geopolitical shifts i
14:43
mean there’s just so much change
14:44
happening right now and all these things
14:46
really need to be taken into account
14:48
when you’re doing near future work
14:50
you know that’s that’s our stance and so
14:53
whereas strategy can really just be
14:55
this is the current state of the market
14:56
that we’re focused on
14:58
near future strategy is just looking at
14:59
a slightly longer you know three to five
15:01
year time horizon
15:02
and you mentioned the near future
15:04
framework which i know is
15:06
uh your concept you know your framework
15:08
that you’ve created can you tell us a
15:10
little bit about it
15:11
sure yeah so um
15:14
essentially what it is is as i started
15:17
to say is a minimum
15:18
viable strategic framework if you will
15:21
you know using that i don’t know if it’s
15:22
like
15:24
mvsf or something i’m just thinking
15:27
aloud here like what would the acronym
15:28
be that’s probably a bad acronym but
15:29
like
15:30
um the idea is that you know i mean
15:34
and and you know when you’re mentioning
15:36
strategy a second ago i was thinking
15:38
about how i’ve
15:39
heard from a number of people recently
15:41
like strategy is
15:43
scary to many clients right now because
15:47
if you’re interested if you’re an
15:48
executive looking for help from
15:50
um from a consultancy or from a service
15:53
provider
15:54
generally you’re dealing like your house
15:56
is on fire or you’re dealing with
15:58
urgent panic level kinds of situations
16:01
right now you know
16:02
thanks to kovid thanks to just all the
16:03
shifts that are happening and so
16:05
strategy
16:06
sounds like a nice to have i think in
16:08
many ways you know at the current moment
16:11
but the good news i mean from my
16:14
perspective from our perspective is that
16:17
the near future framework is meant to be
16:19
just the
16:21
minimum amount of kind of strategic
16:24
framing like a framing
16:26
which is a way of understanding again
16:28
these trajectories of change that are
16:30
emerging now and sort of where we see
16:32
them going over the coming
16:33
few years or however far we decide to
16:35
project
16:37
the minimum amount of that that allows
16:39
for effective action and by action here
16:41
i mean
16:42
coming up with hypotheses where the
16:45
hypothesis would look something like you
16:46
know if we
16:47
did x or if we built x we would expect
16:49
business benefit y
16:51
or customer benefit z or whatever those
16:52
you know how we articulate that
16:54
and these hypotheses are structured and
16:57
articulated in ways that they can then
16:58
be
16:59
tested right either via building a
17:01
prototype and putting that in some
17:03
limited market tests
17:04
or sometimes even just via market
17:06
research
17:08
so the point is that this near future
17:10
framework creates a set of hypotheses
17:13
and a way of relating to those
17:14
hypotheses that is
17:16
biased towards taking action right
17:18
rather than spending many months
17:20
creating some beautiful 200 page vision
17:23
deck you know
17:24
or uh you know a strategy for the future
17:27
of a business which
17:28
don’t get me wrong like there’s there’s
17:29
plenty of value in that in terms of like
17:32
getting senior leadership at a brand or
17:33
business aligned and on the same page
17:35
but i’ve heard so many times from
17:37
clients over the years that that kind of
17:39
result is just not actionable it can’t
17:42
be translated easily or sometimes even
17:44
at all into actual like practical
17:47
business values so
17:48
really what we’re trying to do with near
17:50
future framework is fill that white
17:52
space that we see in the market between
17:54
that seven figure 200 page vision deck
17:56
you know and and just sort of tactical
18:00
flailing you know on the other end of
18:01
the spectrum right we want there to be
18:03
some minimal strategic framing and a
18:06
shared understanding of
18:08
why we’re building what we’re building
18:09
and how to how we see that as fitting
18:11
into what’s emerging over the next few
18:13
years
18:14
and then the last piece of it is um and
18:16
we’re still working this out actually
18:19
we want to have court at least quarterly
18:21
maybe even monthly
18:22
given the level of volatility in so many
18:24
dimensions right now
18:26
meeting and recalibration of each of the
18:29
plans you know that we create each of
18:31
these hypotheses that we work with
18:33
with for clients so that we can
18:36
continually
18:37
test the results and sort of put
18:38
ourselves with the client on the hook to
18:41
revisit and then recalibrate how we’re
18:44
sort of in market so to speak right with
18:46
these
18:46
prototypes and these tests and and
18:49
as quickly as possible actually deployed
18:52
sort of production
18:53
value you know sort of business creating
18:55
business value for our clients
18:57
um so make sense so i mean it’s
19:00
essentially
19:01
that that minimum framing that allows
19:03
everybody to understand like here’s what
19:04
we’re doing and here’s why and then we
19:06
continually
19:07
meet you know quarterly or monthly and
19:08
recalibrate all right
19:10
so mvsf it is or until until a better
19:13
acronym
19:15
yeah i mean a minimum viable framework
19:18
or something in vf i don’t know
19:19
we’ll work on it we’ll workshop it
19:23
hey i know that a lot of your work uh at
19:26
least your recent work
19:27
has focused on retail in the near future
19:29
of retail
19:30
so i’m wondering what it is about retail
19:33
that
19:34
intrigues you and why has it become the
19:36
center of a lot of your work
19:38
yeah it’s a great question in some ways
19:40
i
19:41
um just sort of not fell into it but
19:45
just sort of like gradually move in this
19:47
direction you know after i decided i
19:48
didn’t want to code
19:50
all the time uh for production
19:52
environments or just be
19:53
full on a software engineer i spent some
19:55
time in advertising i think as i
19:56
mentioned doing creative tag and
19:58
strategy work and
19:59
yeah you talked about 200 page strategy
20:01
text you sort of tip
20:02
your hand there that you’ve worked in an
20:04
agency environment
20:05
yeah or like i’m also you know referring
20:08
to like amazing firms like
20:10
ido or mckinsey or accenture you know
20:12
that will do these huge
20:14
you know heavy visioning kind of
20:15
engagements um but sure i mean certainly
20:18
ad agencies can put together you know
20:20
long many slide decks as well
20:24
but the point being um
20:29
no where was i’m sorry i was asking you
20:31
about why you’re
20:32
intrigued with retail and i think i just
20:35
reached out and let you get no no
20:36
down down the road no absolutely no so i
20:39
mean in the agency world right there’s
20:41
so many
20:41
brands that have retail presence that
20:43
are very consumer focused
20:45
and so a number of years there and then
20:47
spending time
20:48
running digital experience design a
20:50
gensler actually where we did a lot of
20:51
work specifically for retail clients
20:53
that had physical spaces
20:55
i just sort of gradually became more and
20:56
more interested in it and then i
20:57
wondered
20:58
at some point reflected you know on the
21:00
question you’re asking now which is why
21:02
like what
21:03
what is so interesting about retail and
21:04
i i’m really clear i get more clear all
21:06
the time that
21:09
when you look at everything that has to
21:12
do with
21:13
buying and selling of things like things
21:15
good services
21:16
it’s so closely tied with what we care
21:18
about mostly what we value most
21:20
value enough as humans to spend our hard
21:22
earned money on
21:23
right or to go out of our way to procure
21:26
and so
21:28
it really reflects i mean the realm of
21:30
retail reflects
21:31
um something really deeply human and
21:33
profoundly human you know
21:34
it’s and we spend more and more of our
21:38
time i think
21:39
in context that we are apparently
21:42
willing to have
21:43
commercialized right like all of our
21:44
social media interaction is becoming
21:46
colonized by
21:48
opportunities to buy and prompts to buy
21:51
things that
21:52
you know facebook or twitter or
21:56
you know wherever else thinks we’re
21:57
going to like and want to buy you know
21:59
so there’s this effusion
22:00
of commercial transaction or at least
22:04
discovery of
22:05
goods that can be bought and sold you
22:07
know into these moments of our daily
22:09
lives you know so
22:11
all of that increasingly deep
22:14
integration of commerce and buying and
22:17
selling of things into our
22:18
self-expression into our communication
22:21
is i mean there are definitely downsides
22:23
to it you know and i feel like it’d be
22:25
nice to just have
22:26
uh social media sometimes that isn’t
22:29
colonized by all of that
22:30
uh commercial interactivity but it also
22:33
means that
22:34
and it works because what we care about
22:38
and what we
22:39
are willing to buy and are interested in
22:40
buying are so intertwined right they’re
22:43
kind of the same thing at some deep
22:45
level
22:45
yeah it’s like a proxy for what’s
22:47
meaningful to us
22:49
yeah yeah it is at some level right not
22:52
everything obviously like we have to buy
22:54
things that that are necessary uh
22:57
but but the things that we spend
22:58
especially our discretionary income on
23:00
it seems like that you could certainly
23:02
think of as as proxies for meaning
23:04
you know you’ve written um this and you
23:06
have a great piece
23:08
on the near future of retail on medium
23:10
right is where that platform is hosted
23:12
right
23:13
um and there’s a there’s an excerpt of
23:15
one of your pieces i think this is your
23:18
um your tldr on the near future retail
23:22
where you wrote what we used to call
23:23
shopping is diversifying and becoming
23:26
suffused into who we are and how we live
23:28
less something external intentional and
23:29
task oriented more essential and
23:31
omnipresent
23:32
in our moment-to-moment lives this is
23:34
partly due to the growth of materialism
23:36
in the second half of the 20th century
23:37
through today
23:38
and yet it’s much deeper and broader
23:40
than this so a sort of similar sentiment
23:42
to what you just expressed but i wonder
23:44
could you unpack that a little bit more
23:46
for us because i think you were talking
23:47
about some other
23:48
forces in that in that piece as well
23:51
sure yeah absolutely i mean that was
23:54
kind of the
23:54
i mean as the tldr was kind of the i
23:57
don’t know
23:58
not quite a manifesto but like sort of
23:59
the
24:01
the um the framing of sort of why tony
24:03
and i wanted to create this publication
24:05
in the first place is that we saw
24:07
these this at the fundamental level
24:11
all the elements that make up retail
24:13
broadly you know like how we discover
24:16
products goods and services how they get
24:18
made how they get um
24:20
presented to us what are the contexts in
24:23
which we can discover them or
24:24
purchase them or share them whether or
24:27
not we need to go
24:28
physically to a store to try them out or
24:31
whether we can experience them in some
24:33
way without visiting a store
24:35
um and and then even the payment and
24:38
fulfillment
24:39
process like all of these different
24:40
elements that make up the sort of
24:42
end-to-end
24:43
you might say set of retail journeys are
24:45
being
24:46
almost kind of deconstructed and
24:47
reconstructed into different business
24:49
models by different brands and so on so
24:51
there’s a lot
24:52
happening there the materialism piece
24:55
in the second half of the 20th century i
24:56
just mean like like i was saying earlier
24:58
i think there’s a there’s an apparent
25:00
willingness or comfort level maybe
25:02
especially in america right as you and i
25:04
know
25:05
with with the commercialization of
25:08
almost every
25:09
context in our lives right in our
25:11
lifetime like we’ve seen
25:13
um every day almost every hour of every
25:16
day
25:17
you know stores are open promotions are
25:20
happening
25:20
you know we’re being marketed to we’re
25:22
being advertised to
25:24
we can expect to go shopping you know
25:26
what i mean i mean this is
25:27
you know certainly pre-covet but i think
25:30
yeah
25:30
certain even during covert i mean it’s
25:32
just all been uh completely digital
25:34
right and then again you know instagram
25:37
is sort of my go-to example where almost
25:38
all of us right have experienced
25:40
this uncanny presentation to us
25:44
of something that we can buy that’s like
25:46
so closely tied to
25:48
some i mean it’s like how did you know
25:51
that this is what i wanted you know i do
25:53
want this and so
25:54
peop you know myself and and even more
25:56
than me
25:57
people close to me um have just said wow
26:01
i just i just keep buying this stuff
26:02
that gets presented to me on instagram
26:04
that i’ve never heard of before but i
26:05
i gets pushed to me it’s like yeah it’s
26:06
so easy and it’s so aligned with what i
26:09
already want so
26:10
um and you know what’s interesting to me
26:13
about that is that that
26:15
you know so often people assume that and
26:18
i think there’s this big discussion
26:19
about
26:20
whether the devices are listening and
26:22
whether the audio that’s happening from
26:24
you know the the picking up on our
26:26
conversations is being used and
26:28
targeting
26:29
in advertising and that’s you know
26:31
certainly a question that could be
26:32
debated
26:33
but one of the one of the arguments that
26:36
people who are
26:37
adamantly saying know that data is not
26:39
being used one of the arguments they
26:41
make is
26:41
you’re more predictable than you think
26:44
like your data points of your
26:47
preferences
26:48
and your behaviors form a much more
26:51
predictable model than you could
26:53
possibly imagine
26:55
and that that seems like it’s true when
26:57
you see
26:58
just how many kinds of similar products
27:02
are being pushed to you that you never
27:03
heard of before
27:04
in ever you know advertising platforms
27:06
like instagram
27:08
as you say it’s it’s true yeah no i mean
27:11
just like
27:13
what’s it like for your home companion i
27:14
think garrison keeler always used to say
27:16
you know all the children are above
27:17
average right in this town it’s like we
27:19
all think we’re above average we all
27:20
think that we’re
27:22
capricious and unpredictable and how
27:24
could they know what i wanted well it’s
27:26
like it’s
27:26
as you’re saying it’s actually way we’re
27:29
way more
27:30
predictable we have way less aberrant
27:32
behavior than we think
27:34
right we actually so it’s actually not
27:37
that hard yeah
27:38
not to say that it’s impossible that
27:40
that audio is being used and
27:42
collected and targeted but that’s not
27:44
necessary i think
27:45
in this i know do you find do you find
27:47
it i mean do you feel like
27:49
it probably is right even though there’s
27:51
denial across the board from the big
27:53
from big tech right
27:54
i mean everybody has their anecdote
27:56
right everybody has a story you can
27:58
start a conversation at a cocktail party
28:00
with just asking that question like
28:02
when was the what’s the story you have
28:04
about when you thought your phone was
28:06
listening to you
28:07
like everybody has a story so there it
28:10
feels like
28:11
if it’s not true that you know if that
28:13
data is not being used then uh
28:16
we just have a very interesting
28:19
psychological
28:20
sort of sociological statement being
28:23
made there
28:24
but the way we all constantly feel that
28:27
it’s so interesting
28:28
not to keep derailing this subject but
28:30
it’s also interesting to me that
28:32
that that’s the kind of surveillance
28:34
that everybody gets
28:36
you know upset about as opposed to the
28:38
constant
28:39
you know facial recognition and other
28:41
kinds of data surveillance that’s
28:43
happening
28:44
all the time everywhere in every channel
28:47
and every
28:47
part of our lives but it’s the audio
28:50
it’s like that’s the betrayal
28:52
it’s like our phone is listening to us
28:54
and serving us ads or helping to serve
28:57
as ads and i won’t have it
29:00
now it is interesting i mean i think
29:02
deloitte published a
29:04
report a few years ago that basically
29:05
clarified that overwhelmingly
29:08
um for humans at least again this is
29:11
probably mostly in the states but like
29:13
privacy and avoiding being surveilled is
29:16
a
29:16
a high priority unless there’s some
29:19
perceivable benefit right that i’m
29:21
receiving and the benefit doesn’t have
29:22
to be big at all it can be really really
29:24
small and then i’m like sure
29:26
you know like you can watch what i’m
29:28
doing and personalize my experience or
29:30
like make me targeted offers right like
29:31
people are
29:32
constantly and i’ve been for decades you
29:34
know signing up for
29:35
to receive offers coupons whatever
29:37
whatever right and so
29:39
it’s interesting yeah as you said i mean
29:41
i think the maybe
29:43
people are upset about the possibility
29:46
of eavesdropping right like digitally
29:50
because they don’t feel like it’s
29:51
directly i was just not part of the deal
29:54
consciously right like it’s not directly
29:56
being translated in a way that’s that is
29:58
over
29:59
right they said hey we’re gonna listen
30:02
to what you talk about and then offer
30:04
you
30:05
you know targeted deals based on what
30:06
you talk about people might be like
30:08
okay i don’t know yeah
30:11
so that’s their benefit right that’s a
30:13
really good segue
30:14
back into your work though because i
30:16
think one of the points that
30:17
you know that excerpt that i read that
30:19
you were talking about
30:21
one of the points that it seems like
30:22
you’re making and you make often i think
30:24
on linkedin
30:25
in a lot of your commentary is that
30:28
shopping
30:28
is so much more ambient than it has ever
30:30
been and it will continue to become
30:32
more ambient right so so it’s it is
30:35
the sense that if people made that
30:38
explicit agreement
30:39
like hey your phone’s going to listen to
30:42
you and it’s going to make
30:43
shopping recommendations to you is that
30:45
okay and i do think you’re right that
30:46
most people would be like hey okay i
30:48
totally want that i
30:49
want to know like what are these arcane
30:51
things that i’m going to get recommended
30:52
that are going to be
30:53
on the nose right but what are some of
30:55
the other ways that you’re observing
30:57
where that ambient uh shopping and
31:00
commerce experience is playing out
31:02
sure yeah i mean so i think the some of
31:05
the most relatable examples have to do
31:07
with
31:08
you know the majority of households in
31:10
the us anyway are amazon prime
31:12
subscribers right so
31:13
so almost all of us i think it’s fair to
31:15
say have this experience
31:17
of spending less and less time to
31:20
get more and more thanks to amazon prime
31:23
right i mean we certainly
31:24
in new york you know certainly in the
31:26
middle of a pandemic there’s a couple
31:27
weeks where we couldn’t like get
31:29
delivery slots for anything
31:30
you know from whole foods via amazon or
31:32
like we couldn’t order anything that
31:34
wasn’t essential you know from amazon
31:36
but after a few weeks they kind of got
31:37
that sorted out
31:39
i spend so much less time shopping
31:42
across the board than i did
31:46
before i was able to get all you know
31:48
certainly groceries from amazon
31:50
and then um but also kind of almost
31:53
everything else that i
31:54
frankly like get from amazon you know
31:56
it’s just it takes so little time and of
31:58
course amazon is pushing
32:00
wherever it can for me to subscribe and
32:03
then make it very easy to unsubscribe so
32:05
it’s like it’s
32:06
you know what they’re trying to do and
32:07
scott galloway coined a term
32:09
for something that i’ve been talking
32:10
about for a while you know he’s great at
32:12
coining these terms
32:13
zero click ordering right he was
32:15
referencing the fact that amazon
32:17
i think patented actually but certainly
32:18
introduced one click ordering some many
32:20
many years ago and that was a huge
32:22
innovation at the time and they’ve been
32:24
pushing
32:24
towards zero fulfillment right of zero
32:27
fulfillment
32:28
time basically right two day one day
32:30
next day two hours
32:31
whatever um the point being
32:35
they’re trying to just remove shopping
32:38
as an explicit activity
32:40
from your life right and i’m just saying
32:42
reporting from my own life
32:44
i spend very little time actually
32:45
shopping and i get
32:47
a lot more kind of i don’t think more
32:49
stuff but like maybe i probably do i get
32:51
more stuff
32:52
yeah so i would say i do subscribe and
32:54
save as a big feature right now
32:56
yes for sure so i mean it’s not perfect
32:59
right because you
33:00
your ideally your inventory would always
33:02
be exactly at the level that you want
33:04
and they haven’t sorted that out yet
33:05
exactly um but another example is like i
33:08
was mentioning earlier instagram
33:10
where i could see people certainly in
33:13
our household you know we spend less
33:14
time shopping for certain things because
33:16
we get
33:17
pushed these interstitial ads you know
33:19
while we’re browsing stories or whatever
33:20
we’re doing
33:21
that actually are aligned with something
33:24
that we already wanted so it makes it
33:26
super easy and streamlined to buy
33:28
so it’s just this it could even be a
33:30
minute
33:31
60 90 seconds does that count as
33:33
shopping to me it just seems like you
33:35
know it was like oh
33:36
we think you need this yes i do give it
33:38
to me you know and it’s
33:40
so right i mean so the point is that
33:44
this feels a bit ambient like i didn’t
33:45
go on instagram we don’t go on instagram
33:48
to buy stuff
33:48
at least not yet maybe some people do
33:51
but
33:52
it’s not the primary purpose of it but
33:54
it’s it’s suffused
33:56
into that whole experience of
33:59
sharing our lives tuning into other
34:01
people’s lives
34:03
just and just sort of being in this
34:04
community of experience sharing right
34:07
that you might
34:08
say is what instagram is right as an
34:10
example
34:11
so so yeah i think that these are
34:15
you know this is where we are in late
34:16
2020 right and i think that um
34:20
both in terms of fulfillment you know i
34:22
mean amazon and walmart have all
34:24
have already been like very overtly
34:26
pushing towards
34:28
um proactively fulfilling like sending
34:32
us things
34:32
that we haven’t ordered we haven’t even
34:34
subscribed to but just based on the data
34:36
they have about what we want they’re
34:38
willing to actually send us something
34:39
that we’ll be like no actually i don’t
34:41
want that send it back
34:42
you know and so it’s kind of proactive
34:44
fulfillment
34:46
based on what we want so that is even
34:48
less
34:49
time i mean it’s almost negative time
34:51
spent shopping unless it becomes super
34:52
annoying they send you stuff you don’t
34:54
want but
34:55
um yeah listen to
34:58
time spent returning exactly so they’ve
35:01
got to sort that out and they’ve got to
35:03
get the balance right
35:04
because you don’t want just stuff piling
35:05
up that you have to you know
35:07
take to your local ups store or whatever
35:09
but yeah especially since
35:10
you know these exposes about how
35:12
returned merchandise
35:13
barely ever makes it back out to anyone
35:16
it just ends up in dumps
35:18
so we definitely can’t have that as a
35:20
society
35:21
for sure so sad yeah yeah and so
35:23
thinking about
35:24
kovit in commerce too so obviously
35:27
you know a lot of what the push has been
35:30
is toward you know sort of contactless
35:31
experiences with food delivery but also
35:33
with shopping
35:34
um but there there’s a lot of uh
35:37
integration
35:38
obviously of fulfillment systems and you
35:40
know just in time ordering and go to the
35:42
store and pick up and things like that
35:44
are you seeing fulfillment or you know
35:46
are you seeing these kinds of trends
35:48
happening
35:49
that were that you feel like were
35:51
already on their way and they’re just
35:53
you know that’s the sort of classic
35:54
story about digital transformation under
35:55
covet is like you know
35:57
we’ll get to it we’ll get to it we
35:58
better do it you know sort of thing
36:00
yes yeah or is it new stuff that’s
36:02
happening uh
36:03
in in many senses yeah no it’s a great
36:06
question i think the short answer is
36:08
um yes it’s really an accelerant and
36:11
again
36:11
i mean if you listen to scott galloway
36:13
he’s constantly saying this he’s been
36:14
saying this for months with kovac but it
36:16
was
36:17
from my perspective from the based on
36:20
the work that i do and i’ve been doing
36:21
for years it’s it’s kind of um
36:24
i don’t know sort of makes me happy it’s
36:25
sort of or it’s good luck or some
36:27
combination of these things because the
36:28
reality is that
36:30
nothing qualitatively or very little
36:32
qualitatively has really changed in
36:34
terms of
36:35
what businesses need to do in order to
36:38
thrive in the context of
36:40
covid and and frankly any context going
36:43
forward where
36:44
physical proximity or where physical
36:47
distance is required or physical
36:49
proximity is
36:50
not safe right it’s dangerous or it’s
36:52
not convenient
36:54
um so when you say very little has
36:57
changed to what businesses need to do
36:58
you are specifically talking about
37:00
retail right
37:00
or well i think i think generally i mean
37:04
sure i think retail for sure in
37:06
restaurants are in a completely
37:07
different
37:08
situation are they not i think well i
37:10
think they are
37:11
um but i think what’s also true i mean
37:14
they’re certainly different in certain
37:15
ways
37:15
um i think what’s also true if you look
37:18
at like what
37:19
has allowed certain restaurants to stay
37:22
alive to stay in business
37:24
right over the past seven months of
37:25
covet is using digital technology
37:28
right to fulfill via
37:31
delivery services right i mean whether
37:34
it’s like ubereats is huge
37:36
here in lisbon in the in new york it’s
37:38
more
37:39
seamless right or grubhub but i think
37:41
like those
37:42
there are local businesses that i’m sure
37:43
you know in your neighborhood right that
37:45
are
37:46
still alive maybe just barely right
37:48
because
37:49
the cuts being taken by its delivery
37:50
services but like if there wasn’t
37:52
that digital service layer you know
37:56
of order taking and fulfillment and
37:59
delivery
38:01
they wouldn’t be able to stay in
38:02
business right so
38:04
i mean it’s not like they couldn’t do it
38:06
necessarily without that but the point
38:08
is that that
38:09
push to leverage digital technology for
38:13
logistics and fulfillment and moving
38:15
physical things around right i mean any
38:17
business that has
38:19
physical materials um
38:23
physical supply chain you know if it’s
38:25
not a services business really
38:26
you know for years it’s been critical
38:28
and it’s it’s no less critical it’s more
38:30
critical now
38:31
that they’re using digital technology
38:32
right in software and hardware and
38:34
sensors throughout the supply chain
38:37
um the same way as it always has been
38:39
you know i mean so
38:40
that’s what i’m saying is is not not
38:43
different i mean it’s really the same
38:45
i think what’s what is different of
38:46
course you know during covet it’s this
38:48
accelerant
38:50
around um as you said contactless you
38:52
know the danger of being
38:54
of touching or being physically close to
38:57
other people or or
38:58
i don’t know breathing their air you
39:00
know being in dangerous spaces whether
39:01
it’s
39:02
you know tight uh population of humans
39:05
and so
39:06
one of the the topics of the way i’ve
39:08
been talking about it recently and i
39:10
actually gave a little talk yesterday
39:11
about what i called the end of distance
39:13
sort of trying to be a little bit
39:14
provocative but i think when
39:16
one of the dimensions of what’s
39:17
happening here broadly i mean not
39:19
in retail sure but but outside retail as
39:21
well is that
39:23
um and it’s been building for years and
39:25
covetous just sort of made it more
39:27
poignant
39:28
we want to i mean as humans of course we
39:31
long to be
39:32
physically present you know with each
39:34
other with things we love with places we
39:37
love
39:38
and we’ve really been suffering and that
39:40
kind of emotional level and that kind of
39:43
and maybe less urgently at the level of
39:45
just pleasure and kind of joy in that
39:47
physical
39:48
tactile sensory experience but
39:51
there is technology that’s continuing to
39:53
emerge and i think there’s you know a
39:55
lot of companies
39:56
and and vcs and and so on have been
39:59
doubling down
40:00
the last six or seven months on
40:02
technologies that reduce the impact of
40:04
that physical distance you know
40:06
through allowing me to feel like i’m in
40:10
another space
40:11
and examples include you know there are
40:14
a few
40:15
startups one of which i’m working
40:18
closely with
40:19
that is simulating the showroom
40:23
for a store this is an interesting
40:24
hypothesis you know do people want to be
40:27
in a photorealistic version of a
40:30
showroom that’s beautifully merchandised
40:32
that feels like
40:33
the bow concept or you know some other
40:36
kind of high-end furniture store i mean
40:37
obviously this is a little bit urban
40:38
elite kind of example
40:40
but for all of us for most of us right i
40:42
mean there are stores that we enjoy
40:44
being in
40:46
the idea is that you can be in that
40:47
space sort of project yourself into that
40:49
space almost like people project
40:51
themselves via
40:52
an avatar into fortnite or some kind of
40:54
gaming scenario right
40:55
and have that experience of being in
40:57
that space and then kind of conversely
40:59
[Music]
41:01
similar technology but slightly
41:03
different allows us to bring objects
41:05
digitally in 3d photorealistically as we
41:08
know through augmented reality kind of
41:09
bring objects
41:10
or for a simulation of them into our
41:14
physical space you know what i mean so
41:16
that we can browse them sort of walk
41:18
around them get a sense of
41:19
of their three dimensions how they look
41:21
how they might feel and we have this
41:23
kind of visceral reaction to them
41:25
but both of these as well as the sort of
41:27
trending towards zero fulfillment kind
41:29
of collectively make up this
41:32
this this trend that maybe deserves
41:34
being called a distinct trend like the
41:36
end of distance
41:37
you know like how distance is just
41:38
becoming since we can’t rely on physical
41:41
proximity anymore like we need to have
41:43
our lives go on right i think that’s our
41:44
collective
41:45
stance um how can we be present with the
41:49
things in people and spaces
41:51
and places we love at a distance even
41:53
partially or
41:54
even in a you know even in some kind of
41:57
simulated way
41:59
yeah it has a long answer no no it’s
42:01
great i just want to let you go and go
42:03
uh you know what what i’m thinking about
42:05
while you’re describing that of course
42:07
you know i
42:08
i think immersive experiences are
42:10
terribly exciting i think you know ar
42:12
is potentially one of the most exciting
42:13
technologies that i’ve ever seen
42:16
um and is unrealized in its potential
42:19
yet
42:20
um but what i think about now like what
42:23
the
42:23
in this stage of kovid uh and how it’s
42:26
playing out
42:27
you know for me and my surroundings what
42:30
i find
42:30
is i really miss third places
42:34
like i my home has become you know my
42:36
apartment has become my home and my
42:38
workspace
42:39
so i have the first and second space
42:41
sort of taken care of in one
42:42
and it also has to be the third space
42:44
and i just don’t have the room
42:46
you know to have like a sufficient third
42:49
space here
42:50
and of course you know i’m used to being
42:51
able to go out and like sit in a coffee
42:53
shop and kind of have that
42:54
even if it’s not actually interacting
42:57
with other people
42:58
the ambient experience of interacting
43:00
with other people
43:01
and i think the easy thing that you know
43:02
someone might say well you know just
43:04
go on social media or something like
43:06
that but there is something as you say
43:08
about
43:09
that you know in the example you’re
43:10
giving about bringing an object in
43:13
in 3d into an immersive you know
43:14
surround kind of experience there is
43:16
something tactile
43:18
something kinesthetic something physical
43:20
about
43:21
you know and sensory about the way we
43:23
interact with things that are around us
43:25
even if it
43:26
you potentially even if it’s virtual and
43:28
so i wonder what you think about
43:29
that like can we actually you know
43:32
recreate somehow
43:34
an immersive virtual third space
43:37
that isn’t second life or it isn’t you
43:39
know something that’s cheesy
43:41
that really will give us that fulfilling
43:43
sense
43:44
in true end of distance form
43:47
that we can actually you know find that
43:49
fulfillment of the third place
43:52
yeah um
43:55
i don’t think that there’s anything like
43:58
in
43:58
uh in the immediate or even we’ll just
44:00
use the term near future right the next
44:02
three to five years i think there’s
44:03
gonna be a lot of
44:04
innovation in this space i think the
44:05
next three to five years we will see
44:08
augmented reality glasses potentially
44:10
even early augmented reality contact
44:12
lenses you know there’s a company mojo
44:13
vision that’s doing this
44:15
this is all about you know layering
44:17
digital content
44:18
including three-dimensional digital
44:19
objects right into your physical
44:21
environment and then eventually sort of
44:23
snapping this content
44:25
to the physical environment in a way
44:26
that that’s that is believably realistic
44:29
right and so we’re still
44:30
although usably you know um ar is usable
44:34
for many
44:34
cases now but it’s still early days as
44:36
you said so um
44:37
but in terms of really getting to the
44:40
point where we feel like wow like i can
44:41
run
44:42
i can relax i can feel satisfied i can
44:45
feel this sense of like
44:47
ah you know whatever it you know exhale
44:50
you know
44:51
i’m being with my my friends or i’m
44:54
having this experience that
44:56
i don’t know i you know lived in
44:58
amsterdam a while ago and i love that
45:00
city and they have this word the dodge
45:02
do
45:02
zelik do you know this word it’s like
45:05
because
45:06
it has a guttural at the beginning and
45:07
the end um
45:09
and they must love the guttural sound
45:12
because what it means is this word
45:14
people say it’s not really translatable
45:15
into english but it’s like the kind of
45:17
coziness you feel
45:19
with your good friends in a candlelit
45:21
like wood table
45:23
space when you’re like drinking old old
45:26
gin or like whatever you love
45:27
you know and it’s sort of like coziness
45:29
that you have in a beautifully appointed
45:30
environment well lit with your friends
45:32
right it’s that kind of
45:34
special moment so i mean that’s what i’m
45:36
thinking when you talk about the third
45:37
place i mean that’s
45:38
maybe a kind of ultimate fulfillment of
45:40
it doesn’t have to be that great perhaps
45:42
to have it be
45:43
like a satisfactory third space but i
45:45
don’t see digital technology really
45:47
being that with a
45:48
with the huge caveat that look i don’t
45:50
know about you but i’m not a gamer
45:52
i know i mean clearly a huge percentage
45:55
of the population spends a lot of their
45:57
time
45:57
in games and so i think that must be
46:01
for serious gamers kind of a third space
46:04
right i mean they spend
46:06
hours and hours a day in games this is a
46:10
huge percentage of the population i feel
46:11
like we can’t
46:12
discount the fact that people do have
46:14
that experience and it must be a
46:15
comfortable place to be
46:17
right yeah or at least an addictive
46:19
place to be i don’t know if there’s much
46:20
of a difference but it’s
46:22
it’s a place people are compelled to be
46:24
i don’t know if this answers your
46:25
question i’m just kind of
46:26
riffing on like there are third places
46:28
yes i mean now home and work
46:30
or like our home space is both both of
46:33
the first two
46:34
um when the weather’s warm i mean no no
46:37
the third place has just been
46:39
the third space has just been like going
46:42
out and being in the park in new york
46:43
you know
46:44
like here in lisbon you know thankfully
46:45
the weather is still warm and so i can
46:47
be out with
46:48
i just get a lot of joy from just being
46:50
out with strangers and watching people
46:52
and even having
46:53
random interactions with strangers and
46:54
it’s satisfying it feels like
46:56
oh we’re humans we’re on this same rock
46:59
hurling through space you know and it
47:01
feels like
47:03
there’s something satisfying and calming
47:04
about it you know like that hasn’t
47:06
changed
47:07
yeah that’s very uh very appropriate for
47:09
a humanistic show
47:11
yeah it was true earlier in the early
47:13
days of uh
47:15
well especially during kovid when i
47:16
thought i wasn’t
47:18
wasn’t sure but i thought i had kovid
47:21
because i had you know all i could do
47:23
was get a virtual
47:24
medical appointment and the diagnosis
47:26
was will you have symptoms consistent
47:28
with coronavirus
47:29
like that was it that was all i could do
47:32
it was at a time in new york where
47:33
the tests weren’t available so you know
47:36
you just had to isolate yourself
47:37
so i was in isolation for a good long
47:40
time and i just
47:41
desperately wanted people so i had found
47:44
this video on youtube
47:45
that a photographer had gone around and
47:47
set up a camera on a tripod
47:49
and just took ambient footage of just
47:52
people like people watching in new york
47:54
city
47:54
it’s like show me show me the people i
47:56
need to see the people
47:59
i just watched this video of people to
48:02
simulate people watching
48:04
wow yeah i love that story i mean
48:09
i mean we can do that it actually
48:10
reminds me because i was thinking a
48:11
little bit you know
48:12
can’t help thinking about the matrix
48:13
when we think about like a fully
48:15
immersive
48:16
realistic convincing space but there’s a
48:18
scene i remember in the first matrix
48:20
where
48:21
uh i think morpheus and neo just sort of
48:24
morpheus puts neo in this street scene
48:26
where you know you’re surrounded by
48:28
people walking by on a city street like
48:30
it’s new york city and
48:32
um i don’t know we’re talking about
48:33
simulations we’re talking about being
48:34
with people we’re talking about like
48:35
the kind of the joy and the satisfaction
48:37
the surrounding experience of being with
48:39
people
48:40
so perhaps eventually we’ll have that
48:42
like we’ll have
48:43
you know anytime you want you could just
48:45
be convincingly in a simulation
48:48
of being on a city street and uh is
48:51
it’s hard to believe even for those of
48:53
us even for me who’s like i’ve had
48:55
amazing experiences
48:57
you know at the bleeding edge the last
48:59
five years especially of being
49:01
present in a simulation in three
49:03
dimensions
49:04
with other people that are represented
49:06
as avatars but we feel like we’re in the
49:08
same space it’s not like
49:09
video conferencing at all right it
49:10
really you really feel embodied
49:13
even though you’re just simulated by a
49:15
non-photorealistic avatar
49:17
but even for me having these experiences
49:19
it’s still
49:20
hard to imagine that matrix experience
49:23
in my lifetime it’s just there’s so many
49:25
things that
49:26
haven’t even begun to be solved for but
49:28
yeah
49:30
so uh lucas glenn commented and said
49:32
simulated coffee shops
49:34
and yeah i think that’s that’s the idea
49:36
i think that could be
49:37
i think that’d be really cool right i’m
49:40
awesome
49:41
but we haven’t what we haven’t started
49:42
trying to solve for yet i’m not trying
49:44
to i’m sure people are trying to solve
49:45
for is like simulated coffee right like
49:48
can you give kate o’neal the experience
49:50
of drinking coffee
49:52
you know when she’s not actually
49:54
drinking coffee right oh she will be
49:56
maybe
49:58
but maybe you don’t need to be because
50:00
then you could just be anywhere i guess
50:01
you can drink coffee anywhere
50:03
you pretty much can except you know i
50:06
don’t know
50:07
it’s a it’s an interesting i guess an
50:09
interesting quandary because
50:11
to me that is what you’re right like
50:14
when we think about immersive experience
50:15
when we think about ar
50:17
for example most of what i think we talk
50:19
about and and it’s part of what makes it
50:21
so exciting
50:21
is that sort of digital layering of
50:24
context and
50:25
visual yeah and that’s tremendously
50:28
exciting
50:29
still yet to be realized fully
50:32
but there is this other thing and and i
50:34
think you know my
50:35
silly story about watching a video of
50:37
people on youtube
50:39
versus you know another thing i do from
50:42
time to time is actually and
50:43
i know i’m not alone there must be
50:44
people comment if this is you if you do
50:46
this
50:47
um i put on ambient playlists on spotify
50:50
that are of sounds of like coffee shops
50:52
and so if i want to write if i need to
50:55
write like a chapter of something or
50:56
whatever
50:57
uh and i put on my headphones and have
50:59
this kind of like low
51:02
low sound of just chatter in the
51:04
background
51:05
it’s so helpful it’s so helpful
51:08
so yeah so i believe it that you know
51:10
what we’re talking about that you could
51:12
create
51:13
you know the immersive experience of
51:16
being around other people that would be
51:19
it may not be convincing per se but it
51:22
might be sufficient
51:24
you know right and it’s interesting to
51:26
tie this a little bit back into retail
51:28
i mean one of the things that’s been
51:29
happening in retail for years right is
51:32
experiential retail right as a phrase so
51:34
there’s experiential marketing
51:36
but you know experiential retail is you
51:38
know
51:39
apparel you know or like designer
51:42
clothing shops have had coffee bars or
51:44
like they’ve had some other thing that
51:45
makes them a destination and a place to
51:47
go and hang out
51:48
right while you’re doing your shopping
51:51
kind of trying to make it be
51:53
a third space right in a space that you
51:54
feel comfortable being in
51:57
um the question is yeah how can this be
52:00
done
52:01
digitally right is there something that
52:03
can be offered
52:05
and again like this i’m really intrigued
52:07
by
52:08
you know these couple startups that i’m
52:09
connected with that are
52:12
working with the idea that simulating
52:15
something like a showroom that you can
52:17
navigate around
52:18
and interact with you know kind of
52:20
virtual but i mean actually human
52:22
backstore associates like is this
52:24
is this going to do some you know
52:26
scratch some of that itch maybe you know
52:28
sort of fulfill some of that desire
52:29
like not anywhere near all of it but
52:32
it’s something that we can do now
52:34
you know that is beyond zoom beyond
52:37
video chat
52:38
beyond everything else we have and it’s
52:40
it’s falls well short of physical
52:41
presence but
52:43
we know the physical presence right now
52:44
just can’t be
52:46
can’t be done in a satisfactory safe way
52:48
just
52:49
really indoors right yeah it kind of
52:52
can’t
52:54
yeah so it is interesting to think about
52:57
something for retail that feels like
53:00
it’s
53:01
parallel to the hybrid model for events
53:03
like i’m seeing with conferences a lot
53:05
of them going to this hybrid model
53:07
of they’re going to still do a in-person
53:11
physical thing it’s you know maybe
53:12
there’ll be a fractional audience
53:14
kind of like what saturday live is doing
53:15
too i suppose you know having a
53:17
fractional audience that’s very socially
53:19
distanced and masked and everything
53:21
um and then there’s the mc and there’s
53:22
the speakers and they’re there
53:24
in person mostly or maybe they’re
53:25
actually virtual then in some cases
53:28
but then they’re obviously broadcasting
53:30
that out to a larger audience and so
53:32
that feels like there’s probably a
53:34
retail parallel opportunity there too
53:36
wouldn’t you think
53:37
for what you’re describing as those
53:40
those experiences that are
53:42
uh sort of the premium or the the
53:44
in-person
53:45
version that’s combined with this
53:47
digital
53:48
uh integrative experience yeah
53:52
no absolutely i mean i you know one i’m
53:55
tempted to say low
53:55
tech i mean but it’s it’s high tech but
53:57
it’s just it’s commonly available tech
53:59
you know using zoom or
54:01
or facetime or skype right is something
54:04
that is a simple and the only technology
54:07
needed to do what a lot of stores have
54:09
done during covid which is you know
54:11
where their customers expect this kind
54:13
of
54:14
sort of high-touch store associate
54:16
interaction when they come to the stores
54:18
they just
54:18
create a one-on-one video call and the
54:21
stores the store associates in the store
54:24
or in some beautifully appointed space
54:26
that has the inventory and so
54:28
the shopper just has this one-on-one
54:29
interaction over video chat or video
54:31
call
54:33
and kind of does that associate assisted
54:35
shopping right and so you have that
54:37
human connection
54:38
again it’s what we’re doing now it’s
54:40
nowhere near as great as sitting across
54:41
the table and having coffee but it’s
54:44
a lot better than you know a
54:45
two-dimensional e-commerce style
54:47
shopping experience right
54:49
yes and a lot better than not having any
54:51
of these
54:52
right not being able to go to the store
54:53
at all so i mean
54:55
that kind of thing is something that um
54:57
it’s interesting there’s not
54:59
i don’t think that’s happening or being
55:01
offered by a lot of retailers i think it
55:03
it could be well it’d have to be
55:05
obviously it doesn’t make enough margin
55:07
right yeah exactly exactly it’s more of
55:09
a high end sort of boutique kind of
55:10
thing but the point is
55:11
it’s possible right and so it’s just a
55:13
question of
55:15
is there the financial or business
55:18
motivation right
55:19
to do it yeah so so those are all
55:22
such interesting provocations and i want
55:24
to i want to bring us back to like
55:26
a more oh by the way i also want to
55:29
include nathan bowser
55:30
said um shared experiences are going to
55:33
be big
55:34
yeah i think you’re right right like i
55:36
think shared
55:37
like immersive kind of experiences that
55:39
seems like
55:42
i think we’re saying like the gaming
55:43
environments
55:45
are full of them but there are there are
55:48
few i think outside of the gaming
55:50
context
55:50
that that are you know that are nearly
55:53
as immersive or shared
55:55
one that’s super interesting that not
55:57
everybody maybe not everyone has heard
55:59
of yet is
55:59
um so if you use snapchat or if you
56:02
follow what they do i mean they are
56:04
really on the leading edge of augmented
56:06
reality for
56:08
your mobile device and obviously a much
56:10
smaller
56:11
um user base than leading social
56:13
networks but they’re doing
56:14
super interesting things they were kind
56:15
of first with face filters first with
56:17
this feature they called landmarkers a
56:19
few years ago where you could point your
56:21
snapchat camera at the flatiron building
56:23
and building in manhattan or certain
56:25
other kinds of landmarks and then
56:26
it would recognize the building and then
56:28
you could augment it you know like you
56:30
augment your face
56:31
you know with a face filter um they
56:34
rolled out
56:35
last week i think on carnaby street i
56:37
think it is in london
56:38
this ability to do shared sort of like
56:42
paint splatter under your control within
56:45
snapchat
56:46
of the buildings in this pedestrian mall
56:49
so not only can you virtually
56:52
paint these buildings but you can see
56:55
what other people who are there
56:56
are painting on these buildings as well
56:58
so it’s like a shared
57:00
augmented experience or layer that’s
57:02
collaboratively created with all the
57:04
people are there
57:04
in that physical space and each person
57:06
could see it from their angle as they
57:08
look at
57:08
you know the buildings through their
57:10
snapchat on
57:12
snapchat app on their device right so
57:15
it’s a kind of shared
57:16
it’s a conversion or the convergence i
57:18
guess of shared experiences and
57:20
augmented reality right so
57:22
i don’t know if this is what nathan was
57:23
talking about but i mean it’s one way
57:25
to share i mean people are physically
57:28
together in this physical space
57:30
and they’re sharing in this virtual
57:32
experience as well so it’s really
57:33
interesting
57:34
kind of wearing that’s like a less gross
57:36
version of a gum wall
57:38
or a food fight yeah like this exactly
57:43
nathan also says lowe’s and best buy are
57:45
do are working in this space and i
57:47
assume he means you know that kind of
57:48
integrated uh third space sort of um
57:53
uh type of thing nathan commented if you
57:55
if you want to clarify you know which
57:57
which space specifically because we
57:58
covered a lot of different ground but
58:00
maybe you know specifically what he’s
58:02
referring to
58:04
um with best buy and lowe’s i mean i
58:06
think the
58:08
i’m not sure exactly what he’s referring
58:10
to but i mean
58:11
what it reminds me of is just um
58:14
you know one of the points i think that
58:16
we make in another article about you
58:18
know what’s in store for the store on
58:20
your future of retail which is that
58:22
given all of this right this is true a
58:24
year ago we wrote this article and even
58:26
more so in kovid like stores
58:28
have to really think and i think
58:30
retailers and really anybody who’s
58:32
running a business has to really think
58:33
like what
58:35
absolutely requires physical presence
58:38
in order to sort of fulfill on the value
58:41
of of whatever it is we’re offering
58:43
right and what can actually what can
58:45
possibly be rethought reconfigured
58:48
re-engineered
58:50
to be delivered at a distance right this
58:51
is how restaurants are surviving via
58:53
delivery you know those that are and
58:55
it’s not that this is a great solution
58:57
but i mean some of them are surviving
58:59
this is how retailers that had invested
59:03
in direct-to-consumer
59:04
are surviving you know during covet some
59:06
of them are even
59:07
thriving because they’re totally
59:09
optimized for just getting
59:10
their product directly via shipping you
59:13
know to their
59:14
customers and they just don’t rely on
59:16
having a physical space that customers
59:17
can go
59:18
to um but so that
59:21
um so that trend i think is really
59:25
yeah important and powerful just as a
59:27
framing right like what can be done if
59:29
you know
59:30
if we’re thinking about as we start to
59:32
close right like what are the things
59:33
that
59:34
retailers or other business leaders can
59:36
can
59:37
use to sort of frame or
59:41
unpack or like discover changes they
59:43
could make to actually solve for the
59:45
current moment and what’s emerging
59:47
you know look carefully and critically
59:49
at what could possibly
59:51
be done um to change aspects of your
59:54
business and how it
59:55
how it works so that it doesn’t rely on
59:57
physical proximity either
59:59
like your employees with each other your
60:01
employees or your
60:02
business with the customers etc right
60:05
yeah
60:06
nathan by the way clarifies he meant the
60:07
retail consultation through interactive
60:09
video tools
60:10
so oh right interesting to see that
60:12
playing out uh
60:13
for for those retailers he mentioned hey
60:15
i wanted to ask you um
60:17
some sort of broad big picture uh
60:19
questions
60:20
as we close out and i wondered you know
60:22
what what technologies you
60:23
see on the horizon that seem like a
60:25
boost to humanity in general for you
60:29
yeah a boost to humanity um
60:34
you know this has been said countless
60:36
times but
60:37
you know i think technologies in
60:39
themselves
60:40
are i don’t know that they’re boosting
60:42
humanity honestly i think
60:44
i mean i can tell you the ones i’m most
60:45
excited about i think frankly
60:48
you know of the last few months i’m most
60:51
excited about
60:53
um so many of us waking up you know
60:56
awakening to the importance of including
60:59
everybody in the conversations around
61:01
the kind of future we’re creating for
61:03
humanity and
61:04
and for the you know kind of alignment
61:08
of humanity with technology which i know
61:10
is at the center of
61:11
the work that you do kate and um and
61:14
i feel like we’ve been we’re being
61:17
pushed and we’re pushing each other to
61:19
kind of bring everybody to the table
61:20
which i think is really really important
61:22
are being fed right they’re being fed
61:24
data that is say overwhelmingly of white
61:27
faces you know and so they don’t
61:28
recognize
61:29
dark skinned faces you know this is
61:31
again it’s not necessarily a problem of
61:33
the
61:33
of the technology it’s the problem of
61:35
the humans that are sort of feeding it
61:37
incorrectly you know
61:38
in a way that doesn’t produce a great
61:40
outcome but i will give you a
61:42
more straightforward answer to your
61:44
question i’m you know and this is to
61:46
reiterate a guess i mean i’m really
61:48
excited about technology that can
61:50
actually
61:50
solve for distance like help us feel
61:53
more
61:53
present with each other across distance
61:55
and you know it’s amazing like
61:58
and and the two sides of this coin it’s
62:00
amazing that we can do what we’re doing
62:02
now or we can feel
62:03
somewhat present you know with each
62:05
other through video calls
62:07
imagine if we didn’t have this
62:08
technology and we had to go through the
62:10
past year
62:11
you know or seven months of cove you
62:12
know without being able to see each
62:14
other in real time i mean i think would
62:15
have been much
62:17
more sad much more lonely right yeah for
62:20
sure but i think we can we can do a lot
62:21
better than this right which is and
62:23
there’s
62:24
there’s a lot of emerging holographic
62:26
co-presence
62:27
and augmented reality and and
62:30
being in other physical spaces simulated
62:33
spaces you know on your mobile device
62:35
one particular thing that i’m sure
62:36
anybody paying attention to technology
62:38
this week uh heard is apple’s
62:41
announcement that this
62:42
lidar technology is now part of their
62:44
iphone pro line
62:46
which for the uninitiated lidar is a
62:48
technology like radar but it uses
62:50
light it makes it so that um a device
62:53
with that capability
62:54
can create a much higher resolution
62:57
regardless of lighting conditions
62:59
of the physical environment that it’s in
63:01
when the lighter cameras point at the
63:02
space so what it means is that
63:04
um i mean apple talks about it does have
63:06
a lot of benefits for photography but it
63:08
also has benefits for augmented reality
63:10
and making
63:11
ar much much easier to use less laggy
63:14
more precise more believable
63:16
and so to the extent that ar helps with
63:20
solving for distance i’m excited about
63:21
that yeah yeah that is a
63:24
that does seem like um it was
63:27
i think for many people it was a
63:29
solution in want of a problem when it
63:30
was introduced but i think
63:32
if you look at it from the lens of you
63:33
know what it’s going to do for augmented
63:35
reality potentially
63:36
it does seem like it could be a
63:38
thrilling advance
63:40
i think six months from now certainly 12
63:42
months from now we’ll see like
63:44
you know what what the developer
63:46
community can
63:47
make it do yeah i’m excited about it
63:50
i’ve got people who i know
63:51
are working on it already so um cool
63:54
yeah
63:55
all right what’s the space i really want
63:56
to spend another like
63:58
half hour in conversation at least
64:00
another hour maybe
64:01
uh and this is usually at the point in
64:03
our our coffee conversations where i go
64:05
like do you have a hard stop right now
64:08
but uh but i guess for our listeners we
64:10
should probably call it
64:12
and i want to make sure that people know
64:13
how they can find and follow you
64:15
and your work online yeah absolutely and
64:18
thanks again kate for making the time
64:20
and thanks to everybody who tuned in and
64:22
is watching this later
64:23
readingfutures.com is a great place to
64:26
learn about
64:27
near future framework and get in touch
64:29
with me you can use the contact form
64:31
there
64:31
you can feel free to connect with me on
64:33
linkedin
64:35
and definitely check out near
64:37
futureofretail.com which is kate said is
64:39
a
64:40
medium publication it’s kind of a
64:42
multi-user blog but that medium does a
64:43
good job of making it feel like a bit of
64:45
a magazine you know so
64:47
those are really the three areas that i
64:49
would that i would suggest
64:50
um follow me on linkedin as you
64:52
mentioned that’s so that’s kind of my
64:54
primary outlet for
64:56
near daily kind of perspectives on
64:58
things yeah
64:59
great stuff i mean i know uh anybody
65:01
who’s interested in this topic you
65:02
really should be following neil is his
65:04
thoughts are second to none so thank you
65:06
neil for joining us all the way from
65:07
lisbon
65:08
and for making the time it’s wonderful
65:11
to see your face and talk with you
65:12
i’m sure we’ll be catching up again soon
65:14
thanks everyone awesome
65:16
thanks again kate bye

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