I am not a tech guru and I don't profess to be a geek. I am a designer at Extractable and I was recently invited to share my own process for staying updated on technology trends. As Art Director, working on new site designs for great clients, it is crucial to stay current with fresh inspiration and have a firm grasp of new technology.
New technology and its implications affect everyone sooner or later, especially those of us involved in marketing and advertising. While some ideas are hyped and then left behind quicker than the QR code, there are new opportunities constantly developing that eventually might become standard. Simply being an "observer" of daily human interaction with technology is not enough if you want to stay ahead of the tech game.
It's true that we are unwittingly all participants in a sort of giant, crowd-sourced focus group that helps filter and propagate useful technology in our day-to-day routines. In addition, there are three easy steps information seekers can do to consciously stay abreast of the latest tech trends:
1) EXPERIENCE IT
Surely you have seen a Tesla Model S electric sedan silently glide past you at an intersection, parking lot or the freeway. It's the second generation of the electric transportation technology revolution.
Seeing a Tesla and experiencing it, are two different things. Don't just watch it go by, go to a dealership. If you can, sit in one to truly know the implications of its "user experience".
What makes this Tesla unique is its 100% digital, reconfigurable 12" cluster and 17" GUI touchscreen dashboard with an upgradable Linux OS interface which controls everything from the navigation system to air conditioning, seat temperature, the sound system, the car's steering, lighting, ride settings and brake regeneration control. That requires some seriously thoughtful user experience design and futurist thinking.
Why does that matter? Humanity is accelerating and decisions are made quicker everyday-the world of knobs, switches and gauges is not efficient enough. Gesture-driven touch control, quick visual reference and intuitive design are how we are beginning to make all decisions online and offline. It's enough to make your thumb and index finger tremble in anticipation. We are all becoming spoiled by the interface of our mobile devices, which is spreading to all other consumer goods. How do I know? I sat and rode in a Tesla and you should too.
2) GET WET, BUT DON'T DROWN
Everyone knows that information is a finger tap away. Blogs, newsletters, subscriptions, posts and feeds. How much noise and information is out there? Some interesting statistics:
Number of Blogs and Web Sites in 2013:
- Tumblr.com - over 101.7 Million blogs with 44.6 Billion blog posts
- WordPress.com - over 63 Million blogs
- LiveJournal - over 62.6 Million blogs
- Number of Live websites in 2013 - 510 Million
That's a lot chicken casserole recipes. So the point is to be selective.
(Source: Netcraft, April 2014)
So how do you find a good source of information for your particular browsing method? A simple rule is that if a website is responsive and optimized for mobile, it is most likely current in content.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Daily shot of knowledge with great technology information:
Facebook is not just for your friends' Yosemite adventure pics.
Join a few pages on Facebook that are insightful and post information regularly on technology that you personally find useful. My top three are:
You could also follow thought leaders on Twitter. Here are a few suggestions
Network and Participate
Working at the Extractable office in SOMA in the midst of San Francisco's tech community, we are lucky to have fresh, innovative energy surrounding us. Location has its inspirational rewards. Events, gathering of the minds and conventions are a truly a great way to stay abreast of trends. Register for groups with events in your area:
If you cant make an event in person, there are plenty of live feeds:
3) FIND A TECH WHISPERER
Finally, a great way to truly find the right direction in your search for tech trends and innovative ideas is to have the chance to speak with, and collaborate with interesting people. Don't be too shy to ask questions and start a conversation with people that have experience and vision. If you are lucky, you might have a few in your office. So, find the right time to strike up a conversation in the break room with your company's talented coworkers.
Here at Extractable, I am surrounded by experienced veterans of Silicon Valley, developers, geeks, and innovators of technology and web design-all of whom are ready to share their insight. When not crazy busy, they are always ready for a good coffee break discussion about data-driven design or the implications of the Apple Developers Conference right down the street.
In my profession, its necessary to stay current on technology, and if you're reading this blog, it's probably important to you, too. Challenge yourself to make it a habit to utilize these three easy tips. You'll be surprised to see what's waiting just around the corner.