PechaKucha 20×20 is a simple presentation format where you show 20 images, each for 20 seconds. The images advance automatically and you talk along to the images.

Last Thursday, I was part of a three-person roster including Daren Kay and Mark Carroll, giving PechaKucha presentations at TMW. While my presentation format didn’t strictly adhere to PechaKucha rules (no automatic advance), I did manage to present 20 slides in 5 minutes on some digital/physical ideas that have been milling around my head for a while.

Having only officially been at TMW for a month, I prepared a word for word script to help with the nerves. It was less like me ’giving a talk’ and more of me ‘giving a read’, but as a result I now have a ready written blog post. So what follows is my PechaKucha presentation on Online/Offline Mirroring.

Countless sci-fi writers predicted that by now our technological advancements would enable us to be flying around using our own personal jetpacks.

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Little did they know that over the desire of autonomous human flight, the raw, human need to communicate with others would triumph. This humble need has been the main driver behind the development of probably the greatest invention of our time – The Internet.

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Among its multitude of uses, The Internet has afforded us platforms to digitally connect with others using online profiles and social media. Early social media platforms allowed the user to create their own online profile in the guise of how they would like to be perceived.

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These days online profiles say a lot about who we actually are and come complete with a judicable backstory of social interactions. So how does this data get on there?

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Mobile phones, or mobile devices have essentially become boxes loaded with sensors. Using their cameras, GPS connections and accelerometers we are able to document our lives as they happen, wherever we are. We even have text based entry and channels like Twitter and Facebook status updates to communicate with our digital social network the things that sensors cannot pick up, such as emotions or our feelings. Aside from mobile devices, there are other products available to collect and share data about our lives online.

The activity even has a term – ‘lifelogging’.

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Nike+ gives the user an opportunity to set running goals and announce to the world when they meet them…

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…and this thing, the wearable Memoto contains a tiny, automatic camera that provides the user with a searchable…

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…shareable photographic memory as a result of taking pictures of the users life every 30 seconds.

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Add to that the strive by Google to create an indexed version of the earth online and it’s easy to see that collectively, through these channels we are amassing enough data to create an online mirror of our offline world. Warts ‘n all. For those that like to use The Internet, yet fear sharing their lives online there is this helpful diagram to help them understand the pitfalls.

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If you want to have a totally private life then do not use The Internet.

So if we are revealing all this information and are no longer able to create an ideological profile of ourselves online, then we might want to share more to create a more rounded digital instance of ourselves. What else might we want to share online, and why?

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Here are a few ideas around the future of our online/offline experience. These are by no means refined, but more like food for thought so I’d love to hear any feedback that anyone might have. Working in this industry, we all know that the products we buy and the brands we love say things about us.

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Currently we can publicly endorse brands on social media and link them to our online profiles through ‘likes’ but there are a few human behaviours that have not yet made it onto social media. For instance, people like to show off new things, especially if they make them feel a certain way or project a desired image of the self.

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Many people will announce the fact that they have just bought the latest iPad online, but what if this were to happen automatically? It might be that when purchasing a physical product, a digital instance of the product becomes attached to the buyers online profile, allowing people in the buyers social network to see what they have just chosen to buy and comment on it. Just as a car logbook is to a car, this digital instance would follow whoever owned it as it was sold on or given away.

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Needless to say, the desire to express the fact that you have just bought 9 rolls of Andrex might not have the same effect of telling the world about your new Ducati.

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There is also a practical reason to show off what you got.

For example, the average garden shed contains around 20 power tools that have seen about 20 minutes use in the last 2 years.

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Shared ownership platforms within local communities can bring down the cost of owning these things whilst making better use of them. An online searchable catalogue of the tools you own would facilitate the use of sharing platforms whilst transferring the digital instance to a user that borrows a physical tool would allow them to be trackable.

With wireless modules becoming smaller, cheaper and requiring less power to run there may even come a time where the digital instance of the product becomes beneficial or even crucial to the functionality of the product. In the same way that mobile network providers have the power to block a mobile device from using the network via IMEI number, we would be able to affect our devices for functionality or security remotely using the digital instance.

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Another idea that I would like to share is around personal data. Currently, social media profiles are scattered across various platforms, with Facebook containing the greatest amount of personal data. There are systems in place that allow a user to create a new profile on a different platform using the existing Facebook data, and in this context Facebook is essentially a data hosting platform.

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In 2009 Facebook trialed a new payment system where the user could pay for purchases very quickly as a result of embedding their card details within their profile. In terms of speed and ease of use It makes sense, but would you feel comfortable with one corporation holding so much personal data?

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A singular profile consisting of metadata that is linked to the user via email address could be one way of having these benefits without one sole company owning the platform. The profile might contain every piece of data ever generated by the user, organised into sets such as health, finance, driving, passport, possessions, etc. Medical records would be held in a database that you could view and share with a GP as and when needed rather than being held by them. Ordering a new passport or signing up to your local gym could be done with the click of a button, rather than a lengthy form and only the relevant dataset would be shared with the other party.

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Data collected by schemes like Nectar and Tesco clubcard would be transferred to the user’s profile. This would empower the user with access to their own data and they could decide whether to share it once a company had justified their request for it.

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The online profile would become our digital wallet. Every transaction of personal data would become so seamless that we won’t even notice when we step through the mirror.