The Blue Gold dress, the Matrix, Lord Voldemort and why swallowing the red pill isn’t such a bad idea

So over the last few weeks the internet has gone meme crazy over an infamous Blue Black/White Gold dress. This is an optical illusion that has thrown into sharp relief just how we perceive the world around us. I will get this out there at this point that I see a white/gold dress not blue and black!

Optical illusions like this prove a point that we can’t always trust or agree with our primary senses. Our brains are complex machines that interpret data in different ways. When I talk on what it means to be ‘digital’ in the context of the Leading Edge Forum’s Xperience Lab I try to emphasize that there is a new world all around us, one that we simply not biologically equipped to perceive. It always  makes me think of the following piece of text from the film ‘The Matrix’

The Matrix written by Andy Wachowski & Larry Wachowski

Morpheus: The Matrix is everywhere, it is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window, or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work, or when go to church or when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.
(In his left hand, Morpheus shows a blue pill.)
Morpheus: You take the blue pill and the story ends. You wake in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. (a red pill is shown in his other hand) You take the red pill and you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes. (Long pause; Neo begins to reach for the red pill) Remember — all I am offering is the truth, nothing more.
(Neo takes the red pill and swallows it with a glass of water)

What Morpheus is alluding too is that the Matrix is everywhere, it is both immutable and invisible. By taking the Red Pill he allows Neo to ‘see’ the real world for the first time.

This is allegorical to the world that we now inhabit. In the burgeoning arena of IoT and wearables everyday more and more of us are wearing connected technologies, we have fitness bands, smart watches, wearable clothing, smart shoes. We drive cars with multiple sensors and computers, we have mobile phones that listen and watch the world around them. All of these technologies are (a) connected and (b) extensions of US. They are generally linked to us via our social logins, either, Facebook, Google or Apple. We ARE digital. They are not inanimate objects without context or meaning. We attribute our data to them. The problem we have is that we cannot see how they connect or how they talk to the world around them. The issue with these new devices is that the human interaction element is increasingly being removed. The machines talk to the machines. We do not necessarily instigate the communication between the devices.

I am reminded of the Harry Potter books where Lord Voldemort splinters his soul into separate Horcruxes. Would the destruction or theft of any of our connected devices not be a problem for us? Unlike Lord Voldemort we do not attempt to hide our Horcruxes from the world, we wear them everyday!

The issue I touched on in my Xperience Lab post is that we simply cannot ‘see’ this new world around us. It is why I believe that Augmented Reality technology for all of us will continue to develop and the much touted ‘death of Google Glass’ is simply incorrect.

What I stress at the sessions I run is the importance for digital leaders to have a strong visual imagination. To provide yourselves with the common sense needed to walk through this new world at present we need to be able to look at objects and visualize their data connections. By this I mean that we need to imagine HOW ibeacons broadcast into the street from shopfronts and interact with our mobile phones, or how fitness trackers are beaming GPS coordinates of our locations to internet servers. Our digital personas surround us like a bubble and all of these devices use data connections and  that are present but invisible. The video shown below is a great example of trying to visualise the world around us. The experiment is designed to visualise wifi signals.

These images are examples of the data networks that surround us at all times. As we walk in a world of iBeacons that are talking to our phones or where we are driving cars that are scanning the pavements, we as humans need to have the ability to imagine these connections if we are to play an active part in the world. At the Leading Edge Forum we like to say that the internet has grown arms and legs. In my view we need to strive to not become JUST the ambulatory function of the devices we carry. They are extensions of ourselves and as such we need to develop the skills to ‘see’ the connections until the technology catches up so that this just becomes and everyday facet of life.


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