Mesh, morph, swarm -- Life with impermanence

dug // 28 December 2010

Project 2012 theme candidates

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Interesting vid of my old boss talking about a theme we uncovered in a “what’s next” project.

The first 5 minutes are rough going but when he defines “life with impermanence” in terms of three service design prompts “mesh, morph & swarm” it gets really interesting (also, knowing what came before, it’s really interesting to see how he synthesizes across industries, audiences, needs etc–he does a really good job of defining a vision for potential change. I’m less bought into the idea of creating a “vocabulary” to spread the word in a corp. environment but nice work).

At Vodafone I worked on a number of transactional prototypes based on the “impermanence” concepts and while these may seem a bit wanky fartsy bollocks they’re actually happening all around us and will increasingly colour how we compete in the marketplace.

If our ecommerce platform used mesh thinking we might be completely distributed across Europe and be resilient enough to withstand peak without going belly up.

If our website architectures were based on swarm thinking we could be adapting in real time, from displaying products or groups of product areas on the basis of local, current needs and be more likely to convert some of the huge numbers of Currys visitors.

Actually, I’m hoping the Rich Relevance dynamic product recommendations we’re testing in January will take us a little bit closer to a swarm-driven experience.

Also, re new stuff, if we experiment with ways to involve the crowd and the cloud in merchandising (group buying, price negotiation and transparency, individual deal structures etc) we could probably do worse that thinking along the lines of the Mechanical Turk (imagine the Turk scanning for price matches and returning value estimates of the items customers propose for swap or part exchange–could be very cool).

Project 2012 theme candidates

(for those that are curious I’ve uploaded the PDF of the “themes for 2012” document that was our team’s contribution to “life with impermanence”)