Looking for Part 2? ← Building a Better Digital Companion
Can a Humanic operating system become real? How feasible is it as a concept?
In exploring the idea of a Humanic Operating System, I’d like to question the feasibility and realities of how it may come to be, and begin a dialogue with you to determine next steps.
Neat idea, but how does it make money?
A great and important question. The answer can vary depending on intent, feedback, and execution. An even simpler way of answering this question is this: It’s up to you. That’s not to say I have no idea, I have some idea. However, I’m a designer and an entrepreneur, not an economist. An economist would be better equipped to answer this question. I am however…the one writing all of this, so here’s a few thoughts, ideas, and considerations.
1. By abstracting the functional components of any given application or service, we create a larger pool of capable workers, customers, and paths to new revenue models.
Let’s look at someone like AirBnB as an example. They’re known for creating a market where there wasn’t one by using design and compelling photography — making a questionable inventory sellable. If I was to tell my Mom that I was going to stay in Flagstaff, Arizona at a strangers house I found on the internet, she would think I’m setting myself up to get murdered. By introducing picturesque photography and designing a robust product they’ve made the idea of staying with strangers feel safe and appealing rather than risky or scary.
Their content and design helped turn an idea into a market. There are many elements of what they built, and what other product companies have built, that are — by and large — ubiquitous elements. And it’s this ubiquity that I think is not only an beacon for a better experience, but an opportunity for a new way to generate revenue.
When you go to airbnb.com, or open up their app, the first thing you see besides a giant background picture or video, and a search box for a location, an input for a start date, end date, and number of people.
Can you guess how many people use this same series of objects within their website and applications? The answer is far greater than zero. Just to name a few off the cuff: Kayak, HipMunk, Orbitz, Travelocity, Booking.com, Priceline, Google Flights, or really any travel, hotel, car rental application. This isn’t even taking into the account this general concept is used beyond the idea of travel related booking — just in order to determine a simple set of parameters.
I want to go to X at Y date until Z date.
Yet here we are — at the DMV version of form hell. Frequently filling out the same information with an inconsistent experience model.
What if as a user, you were able to determine the way this was done — always — no matter who or where you were getting this information from, or where you were sending it to? What if you had an expectation, and it was always met? Would that be a valuable way to save the energy your mind is expending figuring this junk out constantly? I think so. And this place, start date, end date, finish thing is just one example of the repetitive inconsistency we experience constantly as humans. And all we want to fill out is a dumb box.
And here’s the thing. I don’t know about you, but I pay for things that save time. Or things that do something better than something else. The easier it is to sell me on something, the more likely I am to buy it.
If you’re trying to sell me on using Orbitz over Kayak, we’re going to have to talk about it. What are you selling me on? The price? The experience? The service? There’s so much to sell, and the cost of selling is high.
My bet is this:
- Selling components is easier than selling an application.
- Markets can be created and defined by establishing and evolving intent.
- More profit can be generated by not maintaining a staff to manage incompetencies within a company.
Here are a few scenarios to illustrate this point.
I’m trying to sell houses in Las Vegas. I know that these houses exist, but I don’t know anything about photography, which might be crucial in order for me to you know…sell houses. In todays terms, we’re talking about going out and finding a web designer or developer and a photographer, hoping that somehow we can pay these people to make something so that I can sell these houses. Here’s the thing. This is going to cost me money. I don’t know if it’s going to work, and I definitely don’t know how to fix it if anything breaks. So the service I’m about to provide — will not be my core competency.
Now let’s take this same person, and imagine a world in which Humanic exists. I can now simply be a Source of information, and generate revenue as a Source. I know these houses exist, at XYZ place, and that information is valuable, just not without the parts I’m not competent at providing. Perhaps if I’m able to market myself as a source of great information, I’ll lead myself to greater streams of content creators such as photographers, or videographers — working to help me sell my houses. We both have vested interest, and can both profit in different ways.
I’m a person who shops online. Believe it or not, just like in real life, I don’t only shop at one store, I shop at many. Amazon, Delta, Frank and Oak, Flexibits, Adobe and who knows where else. You get it — I don’t buy everything from one place. I buy many things, from many places. Unlike real life however, the way I check out is without fail, a shit show of inconsistency.
There are a couple of quick and easy points about the checkout process itself that are simply infuriating, and definitely do not mimic real life payment procedures.
In real life — I’m paying cash, credit, debit, or check (If it’s 1992 and I’m watching Coming to America. Or if it’s 2016 and I’m paying rent). I have my widget or whatever it is that I’m buying, and sure the cart process is different, but when it comes to paying — it’s always the same. And if it isn’t, I’m definitely confused. On mobile and online, you’re dealing with people like Amazon that are A/B testing their checkout process to make it as flawless as can be, and people who sell widgets on their website who paid some web developer to make them a Wordpress site with payment plugin they found. How do you think that is from an experience point of view? Security point of view? Or literally any other point of view? It’s awful, inconsistent, and unreliable.
What if you could say, “Look, I don’t care where I buy anything from, the payment goes through this checkout process every single time. I the user have determined that I enjoy using Stripe’s checkout and payment process the most. And if I’m buying anything, I’m using this familiar experience to do so.” This idea leads to idea 2 for revenue generation.
2. Sharing is caring.
By abstracting the processes used throughout this system, payments can trickle through so to speak. I’m not trying to use Reaganomics on this, but trickle-through is roughly what I would see happening.
What Humanic is most dedicated to doing is translating intent into action and information. We should not be focused on designing and developing custom applications, but rather the components that can improve the methods by which user intent is best translated. What this means is not only can we better meet user intent, which is great, but we can more easily track the components that impact the bottom line of any service or sale as well. Assuming we can do that, perhaps we can share profit accordingly.
If I’m AirBnB, and I have the listings I’ve got, and I can track that this Map view results in more sales than another map view, should I not be paying some sort of kickback there? If I’m Best Buy and I see that users browsing my inventory in Interface A buy more than Interface B, should the inventory not get a kickback? Perhaps yes, perhaps no. But either way I believe those are monetization options. Maybe the user just loves browsing in a certain way, so much so that they would pay to do so. Maybe they should be given the option to do so, and it shouldn’t really be the choice of the provider of inventory, content, or what have you.
When it comes the the Humanic economy, I see a correlation between user behaviors and economic impact. A place where inventory holders are able to provide content and generate more revenue by allowing those who build better functionality, and experiences do what they’re best at.
If we look at the way apps have connected us to the real world without having to physically participate. Think about what impact abstracting the world in our pocket would do. Not just to the bottom line, but to how we can solve problems, hone in on solutions, and ultimately build better human experiences.
If you build it, does it matter?
A large part of why I started thinking about this concept was simply because I was wondering what happens to the devices we’ve used and discarded. And what this means for emerging markets. Does this mean we’re about to do 200% more damage than we’ve already done building new devices and distributing them to even more people, just to have them discarded? Would it be feasible to build a lightweight barebones system for older devices while delivering basic content to them? Would that benefit emerging markets? Could we give old devices new life, and an update that makes them useful to those who never had a smartphone before? Or maybe those who have but just don’t want new stuff, they just want basic stuff.
Can you just tell me how the heck to get home? I don’t know where I am. I have to visit my family for Christmas, when can I go, and how much does it cost? Is there any decent food around me? I’m starving!
I’m not asking for some sort of CryEngine test for phones. I’m asking for the opposite. What’s the lightest thing I can build to make an old device useable. And if I’ve got a device that is new, or powerful, can I give myself a ubiquitous experience that I enjoy, am familiar with, and can customize to my liking? Where’s that device? Where’s that system? How do I get it?
How does this happen anyway?
The questions, “How does any of this become real? Should this be real? Does anyone care about this?” come to mind. It would require a lot of work, and may not end up being exactly as I’ve written, but that’s how most ideas end up. Not exactly as described. Sometimes better, sometimes worse. But it’s hard to know without trying, and I’d rather start somewhere.
If any of this is resonating with you, the next step for you would be to engage with me in a dialogue. Whether that means discussing how humanics as a concept may apply to other industries, or feasible technical paths to making Humanic as an operating system a reality. I don’t want to build this thing alone, and I certainly don’t have the answers to it all, but if we can start to question the ways and reasons we’re building things—I’ll be happier than I was when I started writing this.
Reading Complete ✅
If you’ve managed to read this far, you have read all three pieces of the Humanic trilogy and I can’t thank you enough. I’m not looking for shameless promotion…but I am. So please share this with your friends and say hi to me on the internet somewhere. Or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org