Saturday, 2 June 2007

Timo Veikkola - Nokia

I went to PSFK's conference yesterday in London. It was billed as a morning of trends and ideas, and an afternoon of new marketing. The whole day was hugely enjoyable and I'm not just saying that because PSFK put me up at the Metropolitan and paid for those Cannes tickets I was moaning about. I made some notes of the thoughts and ideas that made sense to me or even didn't make sense but somehow needed to be taken down. Here they are.

The first speaker was Timo Veikkola (picture by lynetter) who is a future specialist at Nokia (what a great job), and seems to have a similarly exciting position as Jan Chipchase. Timo is one of those social science types that the Scandinavian countries excel at integrating into big business much more sympathetically than many U.S. corporations. His goal is to make communications as natural as possible while picking up on future trends to integrate into Nokia products and usability. Timo pointed out that there is no other stimulant like travel and I'd fully agree with him there. Anything else is just Disneyland really. Timo is currently planning for the year 2010, and reminded us of the question "can the human mind master what the human mind has made?" (Zygmnunt Bauman). For a Clinton Kid like me, the last 6 years have been quite depressing and Timo underlined how war is thematic for this decade despite the number of casualities at this moment in time. He talked how these visuals of the oxymoron 'war on terror' have started to seep into culture and may also explain why there is a considerable counter movement for the honest, fun and simple.

Many years ago I was in Vietnam and noticed that despite all the efforts of the mighty U.S. military machine it was Coca-Cola that had really won the war. One slide by Timo of a car covered in Arabic text reminded me that if we look at the population growth demographics for Islamic countries it shouldn't be too long before, along with India and China we should in the future begin to see more Arabic text creeping into our culture. I always find text fascinating and have even etched a few Khmer and Siamese tattoos on my body. I can think of nothing more exciting than nipping up to the Turk, Sri Lankan, Kurdish and Tamil supermarkets where I'm living and looking at 'foreign stuff'. Somehow Coconut Milk from Southern India is much more romantic and kosher than something packaged by one of the supermarkets. I am also quite frankly bored with all the web 2.0 cuddly logos sprouting, although I do realise that style is more important and useful than identity in this overloaded logo world.

Timo talked about how protest and political statement will likely be more present in design of the future and this was reinforced later by the sustainable design panel. I can certainly see a future where homogeneous brands, products and services are more likely to differentiate themselves by what they stand for - their values as it were. Timo also described that we seem to be living in almost biblical Revelations-like times with famine, pestilence, disease and floods from things like SARS, Hurricanes and Tsunamis, he then talked about the move from a celebrity culture to a knowledge culture which simply can't come soon enough for me.

Many moons ago on a hardcore right wing political chat channel that I liked to sharpen my teeth on I was arguing (or rather being shouted down) about the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of driving SUV's in a world with rapidly diminishing oil and young Americans and British people dying for it while serving in the armed forces in Iraq which everyone knows (except the oil addicts) was invaded for its oil reserves and the Green Zone that will administer it. The one weapon that unsettled the frothy mouthed right-wing-nuts in the debate (95% of the channel) was the question, would Jesus drive an SUV? The unholy alliance between the Neo-Conservatives and the Christian fundamentalists is always unsettled by this simple question and mark my words for the future of sustainable consumption, religion and culture will be huge factors in the war of ideas. Ask yourself if Jesus would purchase an SUV, because it looks to me from the picture above that Mohamed wouldn't have minded a Big Mac. That is every reason for being optimistic about the future...... which according to Arthur C Clarke is going to be 'utterly fantastic'.


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