Don’t Personalize; Socialize

Andy Lippman

Andy Lippman, associate director of the MIT Media Lab and a “visiting fellow” (love that title) at Nortel Networks, gave a fascinating keynote speech here at Telephony Live in Chicago this week.

He encouraged service providers to allow users to “take apart” and reconfigure their own services and devices how they want, partly because it spurs good ideas.

“The more power you shift to edge, the more inventive the area is,” Lippman said. “Inventions come from the edges.” He clarified that remark to distinguish between inventiveness and innovation, arguing that innovation results in a change in business processes while inventions can be useful or useless.

“If you assume your customers are empowered, that’s a more productive way to work,” he said.

Personalization is something customers should do for themselves, not something service providers should perform, he said, urging service providers to abandon personalization as a goal in favor of socialization.

“Personalization is so 1985,” he said. “Whatever application you can think of, substitute the word ‘we’ for the word ‘me’ in it… Social networks [such as MySpace and Facebook] are not a fad. They are a resonant chord in society and probably a force for good in society, as bad as their initial implementations may be.”

Lippman tells his grad students to repeat this mantra: “There is no me; only we.”
All together now…

[Note: You can hear more of Mr. Lippman’s advice for service providers firsthand in this podcast interview.]

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