Mediafront Norway Interview

November 2011

I had the pleasure of being interviewed for Mediafront, Norway. You can read the interview here. I have also included a copy below...

We invite colleagues, competitors, clients and other skilled people from (or relevant for) the industry, for a coffee. Todays guest is Aaron, from Melbourne, but he is currently living in Malmö, Sweden; transiting daily to work in Copenhagen, Denmark. After his education at The University of Melbourne Aaron completed his Masters in Interaction Design at K3, Malmö University; his thesis was on designing services for reflection on unsustainable outcomes. Aaron started his career in a small eCommerce startup in Melbourne, he has completed interaction design focused projects, and been a management consultant for several years on various projects and industries. Aaron is now a design researcher and lecturer at the IT University of Copenhagen, focusing on designing new digital tools (services and artefacts) to help elicit and capture an individual’s creative capacity, during (and post) the use of an existing service, product, or practice for further discussion in a participatory environment leading to innovation. Aaron enjoys making people reflect on their “doing” and is intrigued by designing to elicit an individual’s reflection on their status anxiety, society around them, and perceptions of the world they live in.

What inspires you?
Individuals that do not obey strictly by social structures on how they should live their lives. This includes people that see beyond the fear in change and taking risks. I personally experienced all of this by taking the step to leave my career and life in Melbourne 3 years ago to move to Sweden. It started off as a "what have I done?" to a sense of liberation; enhanced by new cultural experiences that I would have never achieved back in Australia. There is a freshness in the way you see the world and I think it really helps open your creative capacity. Reading a well constructed non-fictional book; it prompts me to look at the world in new perspectives. My friends and meeting new people. I am an extremely social being, and I seem to have some sort of "meet and greet" withdrawal symptoms if I haven't met anyone new within my field, at work, group of friends, in my city, for some period of time to have a conversation and learn from.

How do you keep exploring and learning?
The internet as a medium is a knowledge-driven-universe in itself, that enables me to explore and learn from others. The individuals at work (being in a research environment) opens up for interesting new avenues to explore. Also the things that inspire me (above). TED talks and local TEDx talks around the world. Short, clear, and concise insights into new knowledge, online and free - brilliant! Travel and pushing myself to be honest and truthful with myself when something just doesn't feel right and changing it!

When where you amazed last?
I enjoy the power of beautiful, simple, life changing ideas. Particularly ideas that do not require reinventing the wheel to achieve impact on a substantial scale. In the last week, I came across the "plastic bottle light bulb" to increase light in electricity lacking homes in the developing world; implemented by a local in a Philippine village. He cut a hole big enough to fit a plastic bottle filled with water and bleach in the roof, made sure it was protected from the elements, and there you have it.. an instant 50 watt light bulb run on natural energy! (view here: It is pure genius! Also, don't you think there is something a little magical about sunlight dispersed through a clear water filled bottle? :-)

What is your favourite resource library?
Twitter, and the people I follow. They are like my personal news aggregators that provide invaluable information on what's happening in the world; while also sharing their knowledge and wisdom. Every morning I sit with my coffee scanning and absorbing their quotes, shared links, and commentary. It is such a powerful tool. Also, during my research I have become attached to google scholar for spotting conference papers, journals, and books relevant to the areas within my research focus.

What’s the biggest challenge the digital communications industry is facing right now, and do this lead you to some predictions?
I am not going to draw too much on what my predictions are, but here is a general brain dump: We are living in a strong movement towards a participatory culture on many levels. Digital technology and communication platforms are finally embracing the collective human potential; particularly symbolised by the recent developments through such pressing social and political issues within the last year highlighted by social media. Furthermore, corporations are being bombarded by the power of the consumer's voice through the various communication platforms (e.g. Twitter, Facebook) and can easily lose grip on being up to speed with this power; a brand can begin to be ruined literally in seconds. I think the ease in blogging, tweeting, Facebook posts, streaming an opinion that will potentially start some sort of uprising or collective standing, is both liberating for society, but also leads to saturation and noise which will require some filtering to elicit the potentials amongst the not so good. I believe we will see a lot more of this play-off between the physical world influencing the formation of digital communities, and these newly formed digital communities being extended back into the physical world from a social innovation standpoint to collective action towards existing products and services; be it against corporate greed, complaints, or as a vehicle for innovation as a community. This will, in turn, continue the rise of corporate investing back into communities enforced by these stronger participatory movements in society. To help remove noise and saturation, digital technologies (and communication platforms) I think will further be designed and focused towards these groups of participatory community movements. From a design perspective, it seems that design thinking and theory has made its way to the masses - even if for some it just seems to be the new 'buzz terms" in town; both on a social and corporate level. Digital technology and communication will provide further innovations for new service designs, moving more into policy making and systemic challenges (strategy design). Interesting times ahead for us all. :-)

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