Podcast Ep. 12 – Immersive digital experiences and products – Preston So

In this episode, we hear from Preston So, Senior Director of Product Strategy at Oracle and multiple-time speaker at OmnichannelX.

We explore the past, present, and future of immersive experiences, and how they can be used to deliver rich experiences for users.

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What are “immersive experiences” in the digital channel space?

“These experiences immerse a customer or user in an environment that presents them with content or user experiences that are not limited to a screen. I realize this is a vague definition, but it’s vague on purpose! When it comes to immersive experiences, they run the gambit across a lot of different channels on content or design.”

How do you manage and plan content for immersive and virtual experiences?

There’s no silver bullet. For better or worse, we’ve been stuck in a web-biased paradigm that’s generated a mountain of technical debt – both in the technology and the content itself. Things can’t be perfect, so you always make compromises which make current life easier but create barriers down the road. That’s technical debt. We’ve accumulated such debt all around our systems and processes because of the web-page-focused world.

It’s time for computers to work for us. We need a renaissance of normalness

“I think one of the things that’s really interesting is that over the course of the last, let’s say 60 to 70 years ever since we’ve had you know, giant tubes as computers and and you know, punch cards. We’ve in a sense We had to cater ourselves to these systems, right?

We’ve had to rehearse these behaviors and rehearse these patterns that are completely alien to human societies to begin with, right? If you if you were to show somebody from Babylon in the city of or right in in 3000 BC and say, Hey, here’s a keyboard, hey, here’s a mouse. Yeah, here’s a video game controller. That’s how you interact with your information, they would be like, What are you talking about?

It’s really interesting how these devices that are rehearsed these devices that are learned, these devices that are acquired, have taken over so much of our lives, to the point where, you know, we’re rehearsing how we talk to Alexa, we’re rehearsing how we type at 160 words per minute, we’re rehearsing how we use a joystick to move around these worlds.

I think it’s about time that digital experiences and the way that we deliver content, actually comes back to the core of what it means to be human and comes back to us on our own terms, right?”

 

Full session transcript

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

content, experiences, people, systems, built, omni channel, world, virtual reality, design, digital, augmented reality, preston, immersive, technical debt, conference, create, talking, immersive experiences, page, podcast

Noz Urbina  00:02

Hello, everybody. I’m your host Noz Urbina, and this is the omni channel podcast brought to you by OmnichannelX, where we interview leading minds and content design governance and systems from around the world. If you like this episode, remember to like and subscribe on whatever channel you’re using and check out on the channel x dot digital. For more info on our annual conference blog and mailing list for exclusive offers and content. Now enjoy the show. Hello, and welcome everybody. I am delighted to have Preston so from Oracle with me here today. My name is Noz Urbina, I am Program Director of the OmnichannelX conference. This is one of our one of our conference related podcasts that we do, you’ll be able to see this on YouTube and you want to watch our faces or through the podcasting podcasting platform of your choice. The conference is at the time of recording the conference 2021 is coming up. And I’m delighted say Preston will be one of the featured speakers there. Preston so is a product architect and strategist digital experience futurist innovation Lead Developer Advocate. He’s a three times South by Southwest speaker and author of the book decoupled dribble in practice from from a press. So Preston, do you want to tell us a little bit about your a little bit about your background and what you do?

Preston So  01:25

Sure, absolutely. First of all, thanks so much for having me on Noz. And it’s going to be a real pleasure to be at the OmnichannelX conference, I want to encourage all of the people watching this or listening to this right now, get your tickets, make sure to attend this conference, because there’s a lot of exciting content. I just took a look at it earlier today. And I’m just really floored by some of the amazing speakers that are on the docket. So as not said thanks for that introduction. I’m impressed. And so and I do a lot of interesting work in terms of the intersections between development of digital experiences, design of digital experiences, and especially content strategy and content management around digital experiences. My background has been very long, I’ll say, I’ve been a computer programmer ever since 1999. I’ve been working as a professional web designer, web developers since 2001. And the first time I actually got started with content management architectures, and some of the really important things that are involved in building digital experiences beyond not just beyond not just on the web, but also beyond really started out in about 2007. I’ve got a very interesting background, you know, I started out actually working in web and print design. So a lot of my background is in user experience design. But I transitioned very quickly into content management architectures built on Drupal, which is a very well known open source content management system, worked on some really exciting pilots, actually, that were for some of the best known customers and best known companies and organizations in the world, people like state of Georgia, Nestle Purina building, basically voice and conversational experiences for those folks. But also, at my time at Acquia, I lead our omni channel CMS strategy, which is really about how we can enable not only developers to leverage all the benefits of these exciting new digital channels coming out, like immersive experiences, like voice and conversational experiences, but also how we can actually marry or perform a or create a balance between a lot of the things that we as content editors, content strategists, content designers, UX designers, as well as other people that are in that kind of sphere, need to work on, like compliance officers, people who are managing content, people who are planning content.

Noz Urbina  04:00

So, basically, everybody who would come to OmnichannelX?

Preston So  04:04

Yean, exactly! Everyone who’s going to be at OmnichannelX. And so that’s why I say, once again, this is gonna be a great conference. And you know, these days, a lot of my work is focused on that intersection. Because of my wrist, I don’t do a whole lot of code work anymore. I don’t code full time anymore. But I do a lot of strategy and a lot of architecture here at Oracle about precisely how we can create an experience that is great for the omni channel, because you know, that’s all the rage right now, especially given what’s happening currently around the world, but also how we can make sure that a lot of the developers who are building these experiences have the ability to work very closely and in tandem with some of these designers and some of these content strategists. I think one of the things that we’ve seen, I know one of the things you and I have talked about Noz is the fact that a lot of folks have trouble Well, these days with some of the problems they’re facing AROUND, AROUND interacting with developers interacting with these implementations. And, you know, one of those kinds of environments in particular is voice and conversational experiences, as well as immersive experiences where people have issues. And that’s where I’m focused today in at Oracle. And that’s where a lot of my research and a lot of my writing is focused as well on places like CMSWire, Smashing Magazine, I just wrote about virtual reality for them. As well as for AListApart.

Noz Urbina  05:34

You touched on a lot there. We’re particularly excited, I think that we’re conferences kind of content design, governance and systems, those have always been our four pillars. And what you’re basically saying is, you’ve just kind of been through all of those in your day. And so you’re kind of the you are the kind of the poster child, past couple of conferences, we haven’t had as much systems as I would have liked. You know, we had lots of content marketers, lots of content strategist, and UX designers, content designers, and so on. But we, you know, we’re trying to get a balanced conference where you can bring your, your team, and you know, the technical people have got some technical people to talk to, you’re having good cross functional conversations. This session is for everybody. And so this year, I’m quite happy to have you because you have that more systems perspective, and you’re bringing, not just a fully techie, but a techie who understands how that fits within the business context. So very excited to talk about immersive experiences with you kind of things right on for what we’re what we all care about this year. And I’m a big fan myself. So please, before we go any further, let’s Can you just do a short, clear definition of what you mean by an immersive experience?

Preston So  06:48

You know, one of the things that I think is really interesting about, you know, the proliferation of different digital channels is that we’ve never really had, until recently, until the last few years, very different modalities for these digital experiences. You know, we’ve voice and conversational experiences emerge. But I think the place that I find the most interesting value in terms of organizations, and the most interesting potential, especially given the way that our world is shifting is in these immersive experiences. And what I mean by immersive experiences is, you know, essentially, experiences that involve the ability to immerse a customer or immerse a user in a in an environment that presents them with content or presents them with information or presents them with certain user experiences that are not limited to a screen. And I realized, it’s a very vague definition, but it’s vague on purpose. Because in reality, when you think about immersive experiences, they really run the gamut across a lot of different channels of content, or a lot of different channels of design. And, you know, one, of course, that we have seen emerge over the last few years is what is now called, you know, extended reality or mixed reality, which is the notion of actually integrating a content experience or certain, you know, certain media, within the confines of an experience powered by either a world that is presented superimposed over the real world, which is what augmented reality is. One very good example of this is taking your smartphone holding it up to a work of art in an art museum. Many art museums today are experimenting with this quite a bit, where you can actually get information about a piece of artwork by using the machine vision capabilities on your device, and some algorithmic magic to detect what that artwork is share some information about that artists share some information about that artwork. But that’s not the only use case for a lot of these things. Augmented reality is very interesting, because at some aqua labs, we actually built a very interesting prototype for a very large grocery store chain in the US, that allows someone to scan with, you know, once again, machine vision, a product in an aisle and learn about all the different things that they need to know about it, whether it’s on sale, what the price is nutrition facts, you know, things like where it’s from, and a lot of the things that people need in their day to day life, especially given that a lot of us are very averse to necessarily touching things, you know, touching surfaces and interacting with physical products necessarily. But you know, I think over the last couple of years in particular, we’ve seen a lot of growth in augmented reality experiences like Pokemon Go is kind of a along the same kind of axis of, of how we think about immersion, but I’m also interested in virtual reality and virtual reality is kind of, you know, poo pooed. Right? People say virtual reality, nobody can afford an Oculus Rift. Nobody can afford a HoloLens. Nobody can afford these things. And it’s really just kind of playing around with toys or playing video games that don’t really have any relation to content design or content strategy. I actually disagree, I think that there’s a lot of interesting potential for virtual reality. And a lot of that has to do with creating different spaces and different visualizations of content that actually enable a much more rich form of interaction with this content, just like we can superimpose content over things that are the environment or things that we find out there, we can also actually create a completely fictional world or a completely kind of fabricated world that we can present to users. And this can be a very, very compelling experience, especially for those who, you know, it’s not just about escapism or gamification. But it’s also about providing an experience that is much more than just a screen that’s, you know, 16 inches or a screen that’s 40 inches. But something that’s actually completely immersive and embraces the user, both literally and figuratively. And that doesn’t, you know, that’s that’s, that’s, you know, that’s not quite the end of the immersive design, because there’s a lot of other things involved in that too. There’s, there’s some interesting new projects coming out. And I’ll just dwell on this very, very briefly here. There’s some very interesting, you know, projects coming out around things like haptic design, or haptic interfaces, where people are able to interact with content, experiences, or things like that, through touch, or through gestural kinds of actions. I actually have a friend of mine in Luxembourg, who just worked on recently a project called lickable interfaces, where people can actually go and you know, experience some of these things through tastes. So when it comes to immersive design, the possibilities are endless. You know, I think with the growth that’s happening around especially haptic design, Microsoft is leading some of this charge, we’re gonna see not just AR/VR, augmented reality and virtual reality. But some really interesting other kinds of modalities emerge.

Noz Urbina  12:01

Last year or two years ago, at the end of the conference, I presented a concept which I called the experience arcade, which was kind of which is basically talking about, what are we going to do with all this physical space? You know, we have so much of downtown areas, so much of the world has been built for housing, physical products. And once we are able to, you know, have use the re all the retail space, all the storage space, in any urban center, for other purposes, because everything’s gonna get piped to us by drone or delivery. What do we what do we repurpose all that stray space for and this idea where the brand becomes not just the purveyor of a service or a product, but the curator of an experience where you can actually kind of go in and be absorbed into a physical digital, mixed modal environment. And not just IT people think about video gaming, but very concrete examples I’ve seen, like, test driving your new car, or walking through your house that hasn’t been built yet. Or anything, anything in architecture in automotive, and just actually a funny point there. I remember the one of the first times having a discussion with one of my colleagues about about augmented reality in production, was talking about the fact that it’s already it’s already very widely used. It’s extremely widely used. We know so many of you use it every day. And what are you talking about? I said, when you reverse in your car, you have a camera, and it overlays data, it overlays, where the car is gonna go, it’s gonna overlays, how far objects are overlays. Also, this extra information, it augments that reality, so that you can have a different experience that your physical body isn’t capable of. That’s, that’s augmented reality. It’s, and it was interesting, because he said, No, it isn’t. Because I think we are very attached to the idea that all then you’re talking about is very future. It’s very up and coming. But every time it arrives, we adapt to it so quickly, and we integrate it into our life so quickly, that we actually think no, that’s, that’s just a review camera in my car. That’s normal, augmented reality, or immersive reality, immersive design. That’s that stuff, which is still coming.

Preston So  14:34

Yeah, you know, I, you know, I got to, you know, I got to, you know, say that I agree with you. And I was like, I think, you know, a lot of people get stuck in some of the hardware and some of the ideas that you have to have these sorts of interfaces. But I really disagree. Like, you know, I think that we’re very much on the same page in that regard, because there’s a lot of different situations today. Where, you know, for example, I was looking just at a couple of apartments for a friend of mine, who’s live Looking to move to New York City, and StreetEasy now has this, you know, okay, virtual reality, it’s a stretch, right, but it’s still a 3d model of this apartment and you can zoom in, zoom out, you can do all sorts of interactions with it. And the use cases for that sort of thing are limitless, and definitely falls into the umbrella of immersive design and immersive content. One very good example of this is we worked at Acquia labs, briefly, to investigate how we could, you know, and this is very precious now that I think about this because we didn’t know at the time that a pandemic would happen. But one of the things that we talked about was, you know, what happens when you’re a college, you know, your, your high school senior, and, you know, you’re injured you, you go to a lacrosse tournament, you break a leg, or let’s say that you’re disabled, and you’re wheelchair bound, you’re a wheelchair user, or, you know, you’re in a pandemic, and you can’t actually visit colleges. So one of the things that I think is a big tradition for a lot of high school students is, there’s always that time when you go and visit, you know, you know, Texas a&m, you go and visit, you know, University of Utah, you want to see all of these places in person. But what happens when you can’t actually do that, and a lot of universities are beginning to really experiment with virtual reality driven University tours. And I think when we talk about data, as we’re seeing with the rearview camera, something popped in my mind, because one of the things that I think is really interesting about the potential of virtual reality experiences, is the ability to serve content through that conduit as well. One of the things that we built at Acquia Labs was the ability for a college student to interact with this virtual space, which is literally a manifestation of their college campus that they wanted to visit. And they could click on various points geographically within that virtual space, that would display content or give them videos or give them additional content related to that department or that major or that building. And one of the things that we also built was the ability for somebody to actually edit these things within Drupal, using an interface that would allow them to configure, you know, geolocation, you know, within that virtual reality space, and then associate different tracks of contents, with those items are different images with those items. And I think from our standpoint, with OmnichannelX, and from the standpoint of content designers, content strategists who are looking at more ways to deliver content in ways that are going to attract, especially the younger generations. It’s not just about delivering the content, but also about managing and planning that content, that becomes a very major concern for a lot of these folks.

Noz Urbina  17:51

So I have, you know, I have loads of opinions on what the impacts are on that that’s my, that’s my jam, is the planning and managing ideation set. But what do you feel what do you feel pops out? When you say it has a lot of impact on how we create plan manage the source content? What are you referring to?

Preston So  18:12

Yeah, it’s it’s a very, it’s a very challenging thing. You know, I think one thing, and this is, you know, a conversation you and I have had before and was the, one of the biggest challenges I think, for everybody. And this is not a, you know, there’s no easy answers, there’s no silver bullet, there’s no bullet proof, you know, answer here. And I think we’re all kind of still trying to, you know, figure our figure our way out through the dark with this in in a lot of ways. And that is that, for better or worse, we have been stuck in a web based or web biased paradigm for the first few decades of digital experiences. And the first few decades of what I would call digital transformation, even though that’s a very overused phrase. In this transition away from print media, this transition away from a lot of the previous ways that we experienced content, we kind of put all of our eggs in one basket and said, websites are the future websites are the way you know, and we didn’t really think about or anticipate, and this is no way to blame anybody, because we all you know, had this happen to us. We didn’t think about the way that the iPhone Well, as I know, a lot of us, you know, didn’t necessarily think about, like the iPhone coming out, right? Or Apple Watch coming out, or Oculus Rift coming out. So I think one of the challenges becomes how do you reconcile the fact that we all want to manage content in a centralized place, without having any silos without having any, you know, duplication, duplication exactly, not only of the content, but also of technical debt. Also, of, you know, compliance.

Noz Urbina  20:00

I’ve got you here, your personal, perfect person to ask this. I have a sense, I have a sense of what that term means. But I don’t know if everybody on our on our podcast listening audience actually knows what that phrase technical debt means. Should you? Could you run us for that before you before?

 

Preston So  20:17

You know, that’s a very, very good stopping point for that? Yeah. You know, as a developer, this is something that comes up very, very often in engineering teams and implementation teams. And that is that you can’t ever finish a product to perfection, right? You can’t ever create a perfect website, it’s not a thing. It’s not a thing. And oftentimes, during the implementation process, or the ideation process, we have to make certain decisions that might narrow or might make our jobs easier in the moment, but actually present barriers down the road or present obstacles down the road. So what technical debt really means is, you know, when you kick that can down the road saying, Well, you know, we’re going to focus on let’s say, that’s the year 2012. And people are saying, well, responsive design is starting to become a thing. You know, Ethan Marco just wrote a book about it. Mobile apps are starting to become a thing, you know, the iPhone is out. Now, people are beginning to adopt this. But we don’t have time, we don’t have the budget to build a, you know, something that’s going to work for both web and mobile. Well, down the road, what happens is, in order to reorient your web only implementation, or your web only development project, to something that can accommodate mobile and can accommodate responsive, that’s technical debt, and it’s not just about future outlooks that you might have missed, you know, sort of these black swan events that you might have missed. It’s also about just general engineering decisions that you have to make to deliver a project quickly and get it out the door. You know, sometimes you have to make certain sacrifices, what what language you’re gonna write in what database you’re gonna use? You know, what, what user expectations you set, and then deliver to.

Noz Urbina  21:51

Okay, okay, yeah, that’s, that’s a better definition than I’ve ever heard before. So I’m glad that I stopped you. That makes a lot of sense. And I was on, I was actually on Ethan and Ethan Marcos and caramel greens podcast, it because, you know, we come from very different worlds I came from, you know, Ethan’s coming from the perspective of how do we make it look good everywhere. And I’m coming from the perspective of how do we make the content be able to appear everywhere, but actually spent probably the first half of my career only in the last 10 years? Have I started getting into the kind of the design side and how I work better with designers and the visual interactions and so on. So it was a very interesting conversation. And I remember that they’re telling you, we’re talking about m dots. And I cross my fingers. I’m so happy. I’ve never had a client who had an actual separate mobile website, ever. And I and so we’re talking about that. I told them that what they experienced the first time I heard that there were people who did that there are people who had like, the CMS instance, or the entire other CMS, for the mobile site. And you were serving two copies of the site from two different systems. And I was just going, what, why? How did you ever end up in such a situation? It’s like, it’s, I don’t know, it’s like in like, Mad Max Fury Road movie, where they have like the car shoved inside another car. Why would you build it that way? It’s just madness.

Preston So  23:33

Well, then he upped the ante. a little bit there. Because, you know, I’ve worked with clients in my past as well, who, who not only had the M dot, you know, subdomain or the mobile dot, you know, kind of separate version that was a completely separate CMS and a completely separate database and a completely separate implementation. But I also have worked with people in the past, who built edit.dot or, admin.dot, that was also a separate CMS and also a separate database that was solely for their editorial users. So not only would you have your M dot and mobile dot that’s got its own silo, its own CMS, its own database, you got your production, you know, you’ve got your live site that has all of that stuff. You’ve also got an editorial, separate site that is internal, and it’s firewalled. But it’s used by the editors, and it’s used by the content teams to actually produce the content. And, you know, at the end of the day, it just becomes this unmanageable morass. So that’s another thing that I would note, you know, one of the other speakers, Jeff Eaton could probably speak to a little bit about that problem as well, I will say, because he and I have had a lot of experience with those things.

 

Noz Urbina  24:42

Yeah, Rachel, actually, I’ll call out. People might know Erin Bradley, from Electronic Arts, who is one of the big names in knowledge graphs, where we were putting our content in a repository which truly understands it from a semantic structural point of view. It’s a very techy way of saying things which I don’t like. But, you know, a database that really understands the difference between when you say, this content is about the nose, or this content is about things that are nasal, or this continent is related to the respiratory system, you know, you have two equivalent things. And then you have those two equivalent things are the kind of child of another thing that gets really like most systems are not built to work that way. And so it’s very hard in traditional databases to make a system efficient. And so you can add new types of this new expressions of that new connections wherever you want. Aaron and is most our large organizations are moving in this graph direction, were in the same way that it’s so easy for us to understand the relationship between those three concepts, the databases are actually able to understand the relationship between three concepts. And for me, where you’re getting into immersive design, where you’re trying to give highly different representations of the same content, but you want to take into account who is there? Where have they been previously? What have they access previously? What might their by their preferences be about this experience, really, like? You are the character in your own immersive video game. So not it is a game. But the power of a game comes to the real life that I think is where that these all these things connect. And so like Electronics Arts is a game maker. And they don’t just make the games with this kind of technology. They also use it to understand user behaviors and and associate and correlate, you know, people who touch this and people who do that within the games, and then on the websites, and then on the apps, what else might they want to see? Or what else what offers would they be most interested in? And they were able to make huge improvements. By taking the whole omni channel look and putting all that knowledge together in one place in a very human centric kind of way. It’s a very, I think it’s a very powerful way of looking at the world.

Preston So  27:11

Absolutely. And I think that sort of unification that sort of harmonization is actually a good example of technical debt for a lot of these organizations that have previously created these silos or previously haven’t had that overarching or holistic view of it the other way. Yeah, exactly. They went the other way. And this really brings up I think, a really interesting point, which is that you know, the world today is something that is becoming more algorithmically driven, more personalized. And I, I don’t like the word personalization, because I think it’s a very loaded term. But, you know, a lot of our digital experiences today are very much akin to choose your own adventure novels, right? You’re not going to have the same user journey happen throughout the interface, you know, the same time twice, it’s gonna be different every time, like, he’s just gonna have a different background, they might have certain language settings, or localization settings that differ every time, they might be looking for different things, they might want to have an experience that’s very much cater to their search history, very much cater to their, to their cookies, and they’re in their browsing history within the interface. So it becomes this really interesting concern, because one of the things I think that’s going to be interesting with immersive design and immersive content in particular, is, how do we build those sorts of things, in a way that not only developers can understand people who are working on machine learning can understand, but also those who are planning and managing and planning and managing content. And also designing these experiences can begin to understand and I think the these graph based approaches are very much beginning to kind of peel apart some of these questions and look at what is the way that we can begin to actually manage this content in a way that makes sense to everybody. And isn’t just limited to, let’s say, a web based understanding of this content? Because this is the whole reason why the Semantic Web never quite took off, right? If we talk about some of the really interesting things that came out of the semantic web, which is a very similar kind of graph based paradigm, in a lot of ways, it was really focused on the web. And it was really focused on certain things that I think didn’t necessarily have anticipate some of the things happening around voice and around immersive design. And so I’m very interested to follow obviously, the work around how these things are evolving. And it’s going to make a big impact on how different systems interact with content through these experiences as well.

Noz Urbina  29:55

Yeah, what you were talking about was making me think about coming back to the The technical debt and why it’s not just a different kind of database, it because it’s because with the other approaches to how we build systems, you’re making the system and you decide what your understanding of the world is, you build your records that way, and you build your, your, for the language for the content people out there, you build your templates that way we make, we make brochures, and we make product overview pages, and we make this kind of landing site, and you kind of bake federal into a system, a system that is able to then come in and say, well, this doesn’t just have this, these fields on it, and also now it has location. Also, now it has no time, you know, bringing in the ability to, to place in the full four dimensions of of life. If space time content, looking forwards, looking backwards, and using your understanding to make predictions about the future. That kind of system is just not what we’re used to. We’re used to, we’re used to page making systems very expensive, fancy page making systems. And now we’re moving to something that understands human knowledge, and can then tie that to human experience. And that’s just a new paradigm, which I find so exciting.

Preston So  31:23

Yeah, we, you know, here, here, here, it’s here at Oracle, we use a word to describe that, which is page lists, which I think is a little bit biased in the direction of pages tilt, because it doesn’t just still referring back to the page or referring back to the page Exactly. But you know, one other example of immersive content that I think really, you know, is very much along those same lines is locational, or geo locational content, especially when you have beacons, or similar devices that are used to kind of deliver content to people that are, you know, within a certain set of parameters, like time and like location. And I think some of the really exciting experiments I’ve seen coming out of some researchers in Europe and some researchers in China, around identifying, you know, people who might have COVID, in public spaces and in these public environments. You know, I saw one example, I think this was in Italy, where researchers were prototyping a solution for, you know, they would, they would, they would have this heat based map where they could detect somebody in a public square that had COVID get their device, you know, you know, if they agreed, obviously consented to this, right, get their device ID, if they have Bluetooth on deliver to them directly, a note saying, Hey, you might want to get tested for COVID-19. And I think that kind of model is, in some ways, the way that we should have been thinking about all of this to begin with, honestly. And, you know, I just think it’s going to be very interesting, because the way as we said, right building pages, and creating these very convoluted means to just basically create a printing press of pages, right? We’re just, we’re just, we were just reviving Gutenberg over and over again, right? Now we’re moving into this space, where we’re trying to completely reinvent and re architect how these things work. And it’s a very exciting time to be in, in this sort of space. I agree.

Noz Urbina  33:24

It’s beautiful. And the fact that it’s, it’s also overlapping with in all of our society, how we kind of look at the human side of any of our systems, you know, is this good for humans? You know, we were very focused, I think for for the past few centuries in a in a kind of post Newtonian world into is this good? Is it good for the institution? Is it good for the system? Is it? Is it accurate? Is it predictable? And now we’re kind of going wait a minute, what about the people? And these have been always been, you know, there’s always been a friction between these two mentalities. But I think that we’re, we’re, the market expectations for human centeredness are very high. And the technology is becoming much more capable at the same time. And that’s going to see a huge transformation in the coming years. It’s very exciting stuff.

Preston So  34:19

It’s very exciting. And just to just to jump off of that, you know, I’ve got a book coming out. Very soon after the conference called The Voice continent usability. And in there, I quote Erica Hall, who wrote conversational design. You know, she says, something that’s very astute and I think applies not just to voice interfaces and conversational interfaces, which is, conversation is not a new interface. It’s the oldest interface. It’s the most human interface. And I think one of the things that’s really interesting is that over the course of the last, let’s say 60 to 70 years ever since we’ve had you know, giant tubes as computers and and you know, punch cards. We’ve in a sense We had to cater ourselves to these systems, right? We’ve had to rehearse these behaviors and rehearse these patterns that are completely alien to human societies to begin with, right? If you if you were to show somebody from Babylon in the city of or right in in 3000 BC and say, Hey, here’s a keyboard, hey, here’s a mouse. Yeah, here’s a video game controller. That’s how you interact with your information, they would be like, What are you talking about? You know, and it’s really interesting how these devices that are rehearsed these devices that are learned, these devices that are acquired, have taken over so much of our lives, to the point where, you know, we’re rehearsing how we talk to Alexa, we’re rehearsing how we type at 160 words per minute, we’re rehearsing how we use a joystick to move around these worlds. And I think it’s about time that digital experiences and the way that we deliver content, actually comes back to the core of what it means to be human and comes back to us on our own terms, right? Have a conversation with us, using our own language, our own slang, the way that we say y’all the way that we actually speak to one another, right? Have an interaction with us through augmented reality or virtual reality that actually makes sense, given how we move through our physical spaces and how we interact with our physical environments. That’s, you know, in a sense, it’s gonna be like a renaissance of these things that will bring us back normal, humanistic view. Yes, exactly. It’ll run normal notice. Exactly, yeah, I just read yesterday, this thing about this, this professor who took a year off the internet, and, you know, all the things that he learned from, from the fact that these devices have are mediating so much of our lives, that we’re letting these large corporations or letting these systems that might algorithmically actually harm inclusion or harm equity in our society. We’re actually letting them really overtake a lot of our of our biological capabilities.

Noz Urbina  37:00

See, you just started a whole other podcast there, which I would love to have you back on you know, we’re running a little short of time but really, I would love to talk about exactly that. I want to thank you so much for the time you have contributed to us. I you know, we have to come back to this this is that you just touched on my most favorite topic. And you know, where the dark side of this you know, we’re so excited about it. We’re so excited about the power of the algorithm. But there is there is something wrong with handing out so much control of really culture to machines at which we don’t fully understand but okay, we okay promise you podcast I fear Can I can I get a promise that we’ll come back and talk about that some other time?

 

Preston So  37:50

Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. You’ve got my word.

 

Noz Urbina  37:53

Fantastic. So you heard it here first first folks. Preston and I are gonna go deep into the Black Mirror. Before he goes I want to mention that as a speaker, you can use press and speaker code, which is S p k. So Sierra Papa kilo 2125 When you register to get 25% off any package for for OmnichannelX and as we were saying earlier OmnichannelX is a cross functional event we’re seeing it really popular with teams they you know, bring bring if you are a content strategist, bring your developer if you’re a developer bring your bring your content marketing colleagues, if your social media bring your regular product marketing folks it’s gonna be online this year if you haven’t already noticed on the on the website and all the different materials. So that means you can come from anywhere in the world we’re running a longer time, longer agendas, it’s gonna be very friendly, what we put all the discussions in a timezone which is pretty much good for most timezones in the world. So you can lots of discussion time, lots of panels of experts and stuff like that, check out OmnichannelX dot digital, if you haven’t already, Preston’s on there on the speaker list, as is myself. And that code again, was SPK, Sierra, Papa kilo, to one to five for 25% off. And then if you do come as a group, you can get another 20% off. So this year, you know, we’re hopefully back in live next year. So these kind of prices will not stay around to take advantage of joining because that’ll get you the participation, the groups, the recordings and the transcripts. And we hope to see you all there. Thank you again, Preston, for all of your sage wisdom and, and I’m looking forward to talking again soon.

Preston So  39:42

Pleasure to be here and see you on the conference.

Noz Urbina  39:45

Thank you for listening. This has been the omni channel podcast with Noz Urbina, founder of Urbina consulting, drop us a comment on our LinkedIn or Twitter and let us know what questions you’d like to answer next time and who you’d like to hear interviewed. See you then.

About our guest


Preston So is a product architect and strategist, digital experience futurist, innovation lead, developer advocate, three-time SXSW speaker, and author of Decoupled Drupal in Practice (Apress, 2018).

A globally recognized subject matter expert on modern content management, digital experiences, conversational design, and the decentralized web, Preston is Senior Director, Product Strategy at Oracle, where he oversees developer experience, developer relations, headless CMS strategy, and open-source engineering strategy for Oracle Content and Experience (OCE). He is also Editor in Chief at Tag1 Consulting, where he directs thought leadership and hosts Tag1 Team Talks, a webinar series about emerging web technologies, and Core Confidential, the insider guide to Drupal core.

A sought-after presenter on topics such as user experience, web development, open-source innovation, and emerging technologies, Preston has spoken at An Event Apart (2020) and three times at SXSW Interactive (2017, 2017 encore, 2018). The 50+ events where Preston has spoken include keynotes on five continents and in three languages.

Past #OmniXConf sessions