Don’t just jump on the gadget bandwagon, warns Wired editor

Travel firms were warned against developing strategies around the latest technology and to think about human nature and the role of etiquette first instead.

Contributing editor of technology magazine Wired, Ben Hammersley, said the speed of development of technology is so quick there’s no point trying to adapt to the latest fad.

He said firms were better advised to use their own human intelligence about the way customers behave because this will determine their uptake of new technology.

“We have to remember the future is not a big wall we are approaching or something that will happen after a specific date.

“The future is the journey we take day by day. It’s inherently unpredictable so you have to look at it from first principles.

“You should not make decisions based on the gadgets themselves. You should not be looking at it and saying we need an app. Looking at it from a function point of view is missing the point entirely.

“You should look at the human reaction to these things. The human reaction is slower than the technology advance. But the human reaction is the only way we can possibly understand these things.

“If you want to succeed in this massive onslaught of digital stuff it’s impossible to do by looking at the technology it moves so fast. Look at ourselves and look at human behaviour.

Hammersley said many technology developments encourage humans to behave in a socially unacceptable way and that this would place a limit on their adoption.

This was likely to be the case for Google Glasses, the wearable mobile device current in development.

Hammersley believes this will be highly illegal in a place like Germany and that they will not be able to be sold in most European markets due to the camera on the device.

“It’s going to run up against human nature. It will be hugely impolite to wear them in company. It’s awesome technology, there are lots of times when having Glass will be cool but having them on all the time it will shake out very quickly that it will be impolite.

“Etiquette is sometimes an factor in technology and that is sometimes forgotten by the technologists.”

Hammersley said a similar problem was being experienced by the likes of Twitter and Facebook where people do not want to have marketing messages appearing.

And he said mobile should not be seen as either marketing channels or as a platform but as “like the atmosphere” and not something people have a choice about using.

“Brands have gone on Facebook and it’s been totally inappropriate either because they can’t deal with it from a customer service point of view or because it’s inappropriate for their brand.

“You know that better than a technologist selling you the technology.”

The online world is governed by two key phenomenon, Hammersley said, Moore’s Law which predicts the rapid, exponential rise in computing power and ubiquitous reviews.

“Everything is reviewable. This is a massive social change that’s happened in the last 10 years. Today the social change is that all reviews are considered equal.

“We expect some form of customer service almost instantly. We expect ourselves to be taken as seriously as the most important old media reviewer.”

Moore’s Law means that any technology that “if you see a technology that’s likely to kill you in the future but today it’s not very good in the future it will kill you”.

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