What it is
For all of its exponential, mind-boggling, culture-shifting growth, social media has strangely kept itself confined to the kinds of electronic screen you’re staring at right now. How this has happened is another story for another day, but let’s agree that it’s odd, shall we? Hundreds of millions of daily users across the planet, and only intricate digital smudges on smartphone apps and computer monitors to show for it.
Okay, so QR codes have been on boxes, billboards, and subways for a while now, but they are simply glorified links (whose function is so simple most people still don’t understand them).
Recently, hashtags have stepped outside of their comfort zone, appearing on television programs to allow messages sent about a show or even commercial to be aggregated–and so more visible to all. It won’t take long for advertisers to take full advantage of this, allowing people to tweet about the latest dish soap, and share their experience with their new dryer on Google+.
As a human being this all makes me very sad, but as a tech-nerd I find it fascinating.
Now, fashion retailer C&A has tied an even tauter line between their digital (social media) presence and physical (brick-and-mortar store in Brazil) platforms. By visiting the C&A Brazil facebook timeline, customers can “like” clothing and accessories. These “likes” are then shown on hangers with digital screens. The larger the number, the more swag the item has–and the more aware you are of what others find “cute.”
And for the retailer? Instant and free study groups for life–assuming giggling ne’er do wells aren’t sabotaging the whole process from their basements.
What it means
This is an interesting development that will only become more intricate as platforms develop and retailers use their imaginations. Some of it will be gimmicky, and some of it will represent meaningful, substantive shifts in cultural habits.
The big idea here is the digital visibly and directly impacting the physical. Only this time it isn’t your facebook addiction that is eroding your marriage and neutering your quality time with kids. That’s a mere byproduct of the abuse of access to technology. This is by design, where consumers are willing participants, and even those shoppers who don’t use facebook will be affected.
Both facebook and C&A refused to comment on plans for barcode tattoos, “Like” apps for contact lenses, or brain-implants that upload your distinct fashion sensibilities to store servers and replace them with downloaded preferences that are both more mainstream and profitable.
So what potential might this have for learning? I can think of a few major possibilities.
Image course: Geek.com