By @SimonCocking review of HIPPO The Human Focussed Digital Book. Buy the book by Pete Trainor here 

Digital technology. It has crept into our lives, and so deeply has it penetrated us, that it has completely redesigned us. In the deep oceans and the high skies, it is now as elemental in our landscape as the wind and falling rain. It’s not going to stop.

Due to the way civilisations progress, we are about to zip-line and observe more change in the next ten years, than of the last hundred. But how do we prevent this acceleration from eroding away our humanity? As technology becomes increasingly immaterial, ask this: does the technology we’ve created add more layers of confusion? When we strip away all the technology, what are we left with? The same thing we started with — people.

Incorporating the psychological and philosophical fields into the design process, Pete Trainor takes us back to the fundamental questions, that drive us, and through a journey of design thinking, he asks one simple question, the one we have asked through all times… why?

It is no bad thing to stop and consider what are we doing, why do we do what we do, where are we going,  do we want to go there? It is a good antidote to merely blindly chasing the newest, shiniest idea, app, product that comes along. In this book Pete Trainor clearly has a few things to get off his chest, at the same time he is aware that he doesn’t necessarily know all the answers. The result makes for an interesting read, it’s a short book, but also deserves to be read a little at a time, in order to go away and consider the ideas he has raised and indeed your own responses to them.

The physical book has a nice cover, and tactile feel to the cover, both of which are a good pointer in the direction of the value of reading a physical copy of a book. This may seem a little old school, but it takes you away from status up dates, notifications, and physical distance away from your screen, to have a deeper, more qualitative engagement both with this book, and reading in general. In our interview with him, it is something he explicitly endorses “We’ve got to spend more time looking inwardly at the self before we set about solving mass market challenges. It baffles me a lot of the time that we spend so much time crafting the user-journey or plotting the customer-journey, when in reality every human being is on a journey we know nothing about. There’s no homogeneous experience when we really step back and look at things objectively.”

It’s interesting to consider too, that the book itself is an evolving work, based on feedback and comments from it’s readers. “We have some new chapters already ready for the book actually. Less a second edition and more a reaction to some of the feedback. We listen a lot to people who’ve read the book and set ourselves up to be able to make changes and have them available, to order in print, in less than 24 hours. Which is pretty cool when you think about it. There’ll be some new content that breaks down what makes a ‘conversation’ and there’s a really lovely new piece about ‘freedom’ which I’m particularly proud of.”

In someways this perhaps make’s it tricky to give a definitive review of this book once you know that it has already evolved and changed since we read it. However maybe that is a good thing and by the time you order and read it, it will therefore perhaps be an even more insightful and though provoking piece? In the meantime we’d recommend buying a copy and taking the time to reflect a little on where and who we are in a rapidly changing digital world.

A philosophical inquiry into the future, Ai, NLP and why Skynet won’t happen (yet). Pete Trainor interviewed


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