Today we had a very special visitor in the studio – Alex – the eleven-year-old son of one our clients. Not counting the interns who seem to get younger every year, it’s not often that we have kids of Alex’s age in the building and we were keen for it to be a learning process both for him and for us. Having spent the morning brainstorming ideas with a couple of our designers, Georgina and I had the opportunity to sit down with him and pick his brains. We especially wanted to hear about how technology is impacting on his life, and how he’s using computers and smart phones to learn, shop, chat with friends and play games. Of everything we talked about – ranging from the 3D printing of food, to learning internet safety in school – some of Alex’s most interesting insights were not necessarily around the future, but about imagining the past.
We asked Alex to imagine organizing a Halloween party without the internet or a mobile phone. We wanted him to talk us through how he’d invite friends, select and book a venue, and make posters. At every turn, Alex bumped against the wall of disconnectivity. Nevertheless, he took a networked approach – suggesting that he’d book the venue first, then tell his closest group of friends, who would also tell their friends about the plan. He would then draw a poster, photocopy it at school and ask his headmaster to pin up around the halls. Even if he did conclude with the assertion that “Halloween parties didn’t exist before the internet”, he demonstrated an innate ability in entrepreneurialism, social networking, crowdsourcing and delegating. iPhone or no iPhone, Alex is clearly going to go far.