Grant McCracken is hitting London this Friday to lead a day on his Chief Culture Officer concept. Hosted by Mark Earls, this is a must attend event for anyone interested in contemporary culture per se, and the part of culture in building effective businesses in particular.
The future is digital (and the present for many). But as living online becomes normalised, it loses its ability to surprise and thrill - it's just what we do (I remember when getting an email was a rare and exciting occurrence).
Conversely, as our lives become increasingly digital we start to value more the real (in an old skool sense) and tangible - experiencing and interacting with real things in real time.
And much has been written about how the best business/comms ideas nowadays bridge this gap between our digital and tangible lives.
Which is why I like the really simple concept of Lifetokens: send someone a sign of you affection or appreciation, which they can then redeem online to get your message.
It would have been easy to make this a digital-only app. Easier and cheaper and fitting better with the lives people lead.
And many provide such a service.
But when you send with a click it somehow lacks emotional content...and is just as easy for the recipient to ignore or feel ambivalent about what you've sent.
Think: when was the last time you gave people digital flowers? And for those who have (shame), did it really mean anything?
In comparison, it is the almost unnecessarily time consuming and indulgent nature of Lifetokens – ordering something online, that is then delivered by post, for someone else to redeem on line - that makes them special and worth spending $5 on (to send anywhere in the world).
Whilst the digital bookends remain the same, it is the bit in the middle that says you care...and that makes others feel cared for.
And probably the bit you will keep and remember.
Reminds me of an article I read some while ago (and could never then find again), which quoted research saying how much kids who've grown up digital natives value getting stuff through the post.
Where an older generation sees all the problems digital has solved, for a younger generation a letter or parcel is a rare treat...even a bank statement (as I know from my own son!).
So time to get tangibly digital. Or is that the other way round?