Whenever I talk to someone about new behaviours I'm usually met with a knowing nod of the head and the gesture of swiping thumb. As a smartphone owner it's no surprise. I probably make that gesture 20 to 30 times a day.
I recently read a book called 'Curious Ritals' which looks at the new physical behaviours that have resulted from our regular interactions with digital technology and devices. Behaviours such as 'The Baboon's Face' - holding your hand over your mouth so that people can't hear your phone conversation, or 'The Periscope' - that 'holding the phone high' thing people do at gigs to make videos they'll never watch. It made me realise how many there are and how seamlessly they become common rituals. We become fluent without realising we'd gone through any kind of learning process.
What fascinates me is how these simple new rituals or behaviours can trigger revolutions. Let me explain. I've been going to SXSW for years and gotten somewhat weary of people talking up average apps as 'The New Twitter'. This usually happens because people need to justify their expense account to their boss when they get back.
But this year was different. All the talk in all the bars of Austin was not about the latest app. This year was all about hardware. I'll say that again. HARDWARE. How the hell did that happen? How did SXSW make such a giant turn in just 12 months?
There was a keynote from Julie Uhrman, founder and CEO of Ouya, the $99 games console that threatens to disrupt the console monopoly. Then there was the Keynote from Makerbot's Bre Prettis. Having created the affordable 3D printer they now have a 3D scanner to add to their ecosystem. Then there was Memoto. A life documenting device that hangs around your neck taking a photo every few minutes.
So what was the common factor and what is the behaviour driving this shift from apps to hardware? Simple. The common factor is Kickstarter and the new behaviour is pledging. Kickstarter is changing everything. At SXSW Film 25% of the movies shown were Kickstarter funded.
Earlier this year Kickstarter products were stealing the limelight from the Sonys and Samsungs at CES. The Pebble and Cuckoo watches, the VR goggles Oculous Rift and the smart skateboard ZBoard were just a few to be raved about. All Kickstarter projects. All possible as a result of a new behaviour that sees people investing in products they want to use.
These new behaviour revolutions have been happening since we first worked out how to use a browser, how to send an email, how to bid on Ebay, how to upload a video to Youtube, how to build a social graph, how to write in 140 characters, how to download an app, and so on. New services or products come along and if the reward is high enough we'll learn the new behaviour.
I used to work in radio and the big advantage we thought we had over TV was that you can listen to the radio whilst watching another screen, something you couldn't do whilst watching TV. And then the screens got smaller shifting from desks to laps to hands. The behaviour of second screening sneaked into our living rooms and TV got new wings.
So what are the new behaviours that might kickstart a revoloution soon? I wish I had the answer for you, but I don't. Instead here are a few simple questions you might want to ask yourself:
What are the new tools or services you and your friends are using? Look to friends who aren't working in the same line of work?
What new behaviour is responsible for the success of that service? Such as 'Pinning' on Pinterest?
What are you starting to notice people doing that maybe you're not? In fashion they say that when you notice something 3 times it's a trend?
What are the new phrases people are using? When a behaviour needs a name it's officially become 'a thing'