More disjointed notes on design and game/play, focusing on open vs. closed systems. It's inspired by a Brian Oberkirch post (which hit me like a ton of bricks) quoting Dick Costolo:
pay careful attention to the things that people do with your technology/service/product, because some of them may have discovered a powerful use for it that has completely evaded you. Note that this is another reason to strongly believe that services and products that are more open and adaptive will always prevail over solutions that are less open. Open solutions enable the ecosystem to discover the optimal value of the solution, whereas less open systems are at the mercy of their creator having guessed at the optimal solution in the first place.
OK, it's good enough to note that open systems have the advantage of adapting over time, and to a certain extent this is what Google CEO Eric Schmidt alluded to in an article a little while ago ("don't bet against the internet"). The social aspect of harnessing collective intelligence to solve problems is a bit of a given, unless your name is Andrew Keen. As Brian points out, this is at the heart of what Umair calls the "edgeconomy".
What interests me here are the actual processes, tools and executions that can take the concept of an open system and extend the idea of a "co-created brand" beyond just a metaphor. Specifically, how do brands fit into this picture, especially when we consider that the way they have been mostly thought of and managed has been as tightly controlled, closed constructs.
Again, in attempting to move beyond "inviting" consumers into a vague process without really meaning it (and 99% of social media efforts probably fall into this category), the starting point might be to figure out ways of reconstructing the DNA to actually accomodate more open and adaptive processes, and then tackling the deeper question of why anyone should actually give a shit to begin with. (Hint: something should be in it for them, first and foremost). Without these two things thought about carefully, everything is shallow rhetoric and/or short-term tactics, in my opinion.
Just some ideas for starters: What are the effective ways of inspiring remixability? Or play with the brand? How does the design (of the content or mediated experience) facilitate adaptivity? How does this work, or does it work, with the idea of building an "ecosystem", where everyone derives something out of the process (if ecosystems are sustained by selfish motives, does this change?).
(This is how Brian puts it another brilliant post:)
In a world where anyone can create, mimic, remix Web components, the ideas that spread most easily and completely, win. Simple. You want attention? Make it simple for people to give you attention and to retell your story. Designing for hackability means giving people the things they need to retell your story in their own terms.
More to come soon on this. As I said, these are just disjointed thoughts as I try to get my head around how some of these ideas intersect.