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Musings of a Digital Immigrant: Why It’s Important to Not Get Carried Away



INFLUENCER: Dan Mallerman, Head of New Business at Kode, on the ever changing face of tech & advertising

Musings of a Digital Immigrant: Why It’s Important to Not Get Carried Away

In 2001 Mark Prensky looked at the changing landscape of digital and its relationship with education. He surmised that there are two types of digital person; native and immigrant. 

Prensky was referring to the idea of utilising the digital revolution as a tool for children who struggle with outmoded methods of learning. However, this isn’t limited solely to the classroom. 

At Kode Media I fall firmly into the immigrant category. I’m regularly baffled by the idea that the printer sat on one side of the room and my laptop on the other ‘can’t connect’ and resetting an email password on my mobile phone is akin to suggesting an infant tackle a Sudoku puzzle, or, indeed, that I do!

But my colleagues, each of whom is disgustingly young, are natives. I approach them with a menial issue that is resolved in a flurry of finger tapping which both shames me but sorts my problems out in an instant. 

Advertising is in the continued midst of change. In the past year we have created integrated commercials, shot 360-degree films, have long used drone-operated cameras, and continue to invest in ideas using experiential techniques – conceptual projection for example. 

With any and every advancement in filming technique the temptation is, understandably, to utilise that capacity, however, my concern remains that this mustn’t be to the detriment of the message. Agencies, clients and production companies must remain entirely aware that we can use the latest gadget, the tool that everyone is talking about, for every project – only everyone isn’t talking about it because it remains only relevant to those who retain some interest. 

Who is to say that someone looking to switch banks or about to become a parent for the first time and wants to know which food is best for the new arrival, gives a monkey’s about the how and simply care about the what and the why… if we forget the point, which is to speak to an audience to become slavishly addicted to technology, then the technology will be worthless. 

It might be true of anything and everything ‘these days’ but the pace of change is rapid. I have a phone that gets laughed at yet it was new this exact time last year. People pick it up between thumb and forefinger looking at it as though it’s some piece of Roman pottery discovered on an archaeological dig. My TV might as well have a 50p slot and a pencil should accompany my mobile music device – those old enough will understand. We should embrace any and all advancements with unbridled joy, this I don’t contest. 

There are moments when my expression upon learning of some fantastic new camera mirrors that of my expression when Paxman reads out a science question on University Challenge. You know the one; fly catching. But I am equally impressed when some swotty toff reels off the answer as I am when an excitable director, goofy, childlike smile plastered on their face details how the new tool works. 

Now these may be the musings of a digital immigrant but it matters not what the advancing platform is. What matters is the audience remain the primary focus for each and every project. 

And that will never change. 

Dan Mallerman is Head of New Business at Kode Media

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Kode, Thu, 04 Feb 2016 16:06:46 GMT