Convenience isn’t digital

Ben Holliday:

Buying your fresh fruit and veg at local market is a valuable social connection. When I take my daughters to our local food market on Saturday’s they get to interact with our local community. The market sellers always chat to them. They often count the money (cash) when we pay, and help work out the change. One lady that serves us asks them what they’re doing for the rest of the weekend, and they learn to interact with other adults that aren’t their family or school teachers.

I can get supermarket fruit and veg delivered to my door (probably more cheaply), but this convenience comes at a cost of social value.

There is always a cost to convenience. As a business, the question is where you offset your costs. It’s 2017, and Amazon have just bought Whole Foods Market. What does that really say about our interactions with our local shops and markets?

My question for companies like Amazon is how will they think about the social value of what they sell in the future? Or, how will they think about offsetting the social cost of the speed and convenience they’re prepared to offer? My expectation is that they won’t think about these things at all.

Amazon’s answer appears to be unmanned stores where your every move is tracked, all for the supposed convenience of not having to use a checkout.

The real potential of emerging technology should be how it helps us to design for increased social value. I don’t want to live in a world where everything is so seamless and so fast that most moments pass me by.

Amen to that.