This outdated worldview is holding back the internet

If you’re born before 1990 you probably tend to believe a computer is a laptop (or a desktop, but that’s so retro…).

Walking around the average office you might think that’s correct. But there are two issues with this world view. The first one is that the numbers don’t agree, I’ll get back to that. And the second one is that it gives us a bad explanation to understand our users or clients with.

What we believe are computers is just the shape that was popular for computing devices between the early 80s and 2007. They used to be beige boxes, but the use case was the same: they sit on our desk or table, and they let us peck at spreadsheets with our mice.

That’s not what the world looks like anymore. More and more people were introduced to computers that looked like the iPhone. They know what laptops are, sure. But to them that’s not what a computer is. For them the computer is a screen you use for internet services.

In fact most computing is already done on iphone-like devices:

“In terms of computing, no one now questions the shift that took place from desktops and laptops to mobile devices. However, reality was messier as it took nearly a decade for consensus to view the smartphone as a laptop or desktop alternative. For years, smartphones were viewed as merely laptop and desktop extensions. What was initially viewed as a superior email machine for executives marked the start of a paradigm shift in the making.”

Above Avalon

The world looked confusedly at us kids who understood the internet. Now we’re in danger of doing the same. We’re probably already moving towards computation that is even less like a traditional computer like watches and headphones.

Most companies still lag the mobile paradigm shift, partly — I think — because we who were born before 1990 still think a computer is a box with a keyboard.

It’s time to abandon the idea of the traditional computer. It had it’s day, I still love it. But that’s no longer a model of the world that makes sense.

The only useful distinction today is online or offline. And online is touch first.

The Gamification of SIME

Orginially posted on the official SIME blog
SIME is a Swedish Conference on web, tech and startups. Where great speakers entertain for two days and investors and entrepreneurs mingle over coffee and champagne.

SIME 2011 was a flurry of great speaker on a wide area of subjects. While the set theme for SIME was “Passion Wins” another theme running through the conference was going mobile. Gamification was subtly introduced to the SIME audience in a panel on Gamification and marketing. Possibly to set the stage for a larger presence next year.

But what exactly is Gamification and how does it tie in with SIME 2011?
Gamification is the process of using game mechanics in non-game products and services. I am not talking about  3D characters or scoring points here however. Games have matured in relative obscurity thought the years to become one of the worlds largest entertainment forms, aimed mostly at adults. The foundations ofwhat makes a good game are similar and equally complex as what makes a great brand. The psychology or rewards have been used in training and products over the years, but only games have really delved deep and explored the territory. Pacing and storytelling in a product where there is no story is also only really explored in the games industry. Science and design based on concepts like these are migrating from games into “normal” products.

This is Gamification. And oddly, ties in excellently to SIMEs central theme.

The Passion of Gamification
Passion Wins. That theme was presented by Ola in his welcoming speech and it was central to almost all the talks at SIME. From presentations from promising startups, among them iZettle – the mobile payment solution, to using brain scans for better marketing there was not a presenter on stage that lacked passion. But how do we reach passion in our users or customers? While every panel spoke of the importance to engage users and inspire passion there was only one that talked about how thats done.

Panel on Gamificiation
A panel consisting of Elísabet GrétarsdóttirEve OnlineJohan Sjöberg, founder Starstable, and Robin TeiglandStockholm School of Economics, joined Ola on stage to discuss the most popular buzzword of the day.

The panel wasn’t that impressed with the term Gamification for starters. Elisabet described it as working with motivation in marketing to engage the audience, hopefully getting them to participate. Johan joined in saying that the term might be a misnomer, that the term Playification might be more appropriate. Since the focus is on engagement but not at all games.

“we are playful creatures” – Elísabet Grétarsdóttir, SIME 2011

The panel was in agreement that playfulness was important for humans, adding fun to anything should be possible. The panel highlighted experiments with gamification in education and Elisabet even made a pitch to add creative interaction in the fashion industry.

If we are playful creatures, play should be a great way to engage our users. Right?

Going mobile with gamification
As I mentioned earlier another trend runnings through the entire conference was going mobile. Google spoke of being a mobile first company, Ericsson spoke about communicating in a world where every device is interconnected. But what does this have to do with gamification?

Throughout SIME we heard speakers talk about new paradigms and the web/app divide. Essentially mobile web is taking over and has a different set or boundaries than the desktop web. So how to we make sure our mobile interfaces are good enough and engaging users? You know where I’m going with this aren’t you?

Mobile interfaces is a perfect place to start adding the fun.

Summing up gamification at SIME 2011
The passion at SIME was amazing. The energy was great. The game we played at the conference, bad. Basically we’re all looking into how to engage and interact with people through digital mediums. The only industry that has really done it is the games industry. Moving their knowledge to the rest of the web is gamification. Elisabet doesn’t think it’s through external motivation. Ola thinks it might have something to do with horses.

The only thing we know is: however it’s done, it’s going mobile.


Jesper Bylund is a Game Designer / Interaction Designer who blogs about Gamification on Adding the

Added a short explanation of what SIME is, thanks to @kenneth_aa for making me realize it was needed.