NOTE: This is the introduction of a whitepaper/manifesto that is currently in development. If you’d like a copy of the full whitepaper, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Cyborgs have a bad rap. In TV, literature, movies, etc., they’re depicted as more machine than human: automated, unfeeling, calculating. They are simultaneously attractive to humans, as they are human, and repulsive, as they are also machines. We are fascinated with their efficiencies and technology, and at the same time we are disgusted with their lack of humanity.
And we are frightened, of course, by them; they remind us of a possible future that, with all of our technology, may be impossible to escape. There is nothing natural about cyborgs—they are made and not born; and we fear we may lose our own natural state of humanity by giving into their technology.
And yet, that is essentially what we have done. Technology has been integrated into almost every facet of our lives.
The irony here is that for all our technology, we continue to strive to be more human. Rather, our technology allows us to be more human—to extend our humanity or even translate it into digital format. At least, to the extent we can. We suffer from a technologically-induced cultural Attention Deficit Disorder, jumping from shiny object to shiny object with little time devoted to stopping and smelling the roses. We bounce happily from Facebook post to YouTube clip to Tweet to email and back again, always feeling busy but never actually getting anything done.
Our technology is now an extension of ourselves. We are always on, always connected to each other…through our phones, our tablets, our laptops, our cars, our TVs, etc. More than ever, we are living in a mixed-medium world. That is, we simultaneously live in multiple worlds that are layered on top of each other like a palimpsest. We live in the real world that we experience through our bodies; we live in online worlds in numerous communities that we experience through our technology.
We live in a mobile world where virtual information is all around us, hidden from our human eye, yet visible through our cyborg eyes. Look up “Times Square” on Google Maps and you’ll see links to thousands of images, pictures uploaded by visitors from all over the world.
I have always contended that virtual communities have no meaning, no relevance, if it they do not impact real-world decisions. Now, everywhere we go, almost everything we look at has been somehow captured and imprinted into a server somewhere in the world. We have re-created Borges’ “Map of the Empire,” where every feature of everything is mapped out, only now it is in if only in small chunks spread across millions of computers around the world, each with our own individual imprint. The virtual community and the real-world overlap, coincide, exist simultaneously with references to each other.
What does this mean for brands and the people who market them? If consumers are cyborgs living multi-faceted lives that traverse the real and the virtual, then do we need to build cyborg brands that do the same? What is a cyborg brand? And what does it mean to be a cyborg marketer?
These are questions we hope to conquer in future posts. Resistance is futile!