Acknowledge, Recognize, Communicate

[December 23, 2010]


Is there a universal language of engagement? Judging from the wide variety of personality types I’ve encountered over time, I doubt it. 

But is universality even necessary? Maybe all an engagement strategy really needs is the inrique that comes from having many possible interpretations. Create something rich enough in meaning and even people with contrasting psycho-cultural outlooks will find something they can respond to.

Take the global response to a film like Avatar, for example. Filtered through many divergent cultural outlooks, not everyone is engaged by the film in the same way or for the same reasons. The simple fact that it is, on one level, a film about colonialism, is itself enough to trigger a wide range of emotional responses—depending on which version of global history you identify with.

So my question is, can digital space develop a global vocabulary of its own, a rich, layered mine of meaning and engagement—something that goes beyond narrow conformity to codified theories of “best practice?”

Yes, I know. That’s a tall order. And yet I sometimes find the seeds of what I’m after in random bits of video like the one at the top of the page. To be clear, I’m not advocating the entire digital marketing industry become a subset of the “Hello Kitty” empire.

But here’s what I do see: A three-stage interaction with the viewer:

• Acknowledge: Kitty raises her head
• Recognize: Kitty looks you in the eye
• Communicate: (translation) “I love my bear.”

The more I think about it, the more these three interactions sum up most of what I want from any Web site, whether I visit it once or several times a day. While they have nothing to do with product features or “reason to believe” they are the very essentials of human interaction.

And in the end, that’s what I’m looking to as the future of digital space, one of the key things that will help it realize its potential as a new medium: Its latent ability to conger up a coherent, tangible and engagingly human personality.


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Mark Laporta

Writer, Creative Consultant
New York, NY




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