digital, trend

Have Toys, Will Play

And just a year ago, he used to open
windows only to let the sunshine in.

You know a trend is becoming an accepted way of life when the most ordinary of people begin to adopt it.

It’s amazing how even those who could barely handle a desktop computer are today showing off their app-loaded smartphones and tablets, flocking to Facebook and Twitter…and finding new ways to use them.

Here are a few ways in which ordinary people – not geeks like you and me – are taking advantage of the digital revolution.

Doctor, Doctor (Part 1)

Whatsapp for Android

My wife suffered a burn on her arm quite recently. She self-medicated for a few days, but then got concerned about some yellowing on the wound. Unfortunately, our friendly neighbourhood doctor – Techknowdoc, he of the medical misadventures – lives about 15 km. away, and it was late at night. What to do? 

Enter Whatsapp, the cross-platform messenger app! Whatsapp allows users to send texts, images, videos and locations over their data connections. So my wife took a picture of the wound on her iPhone and sent it to our friend. Within minutes, she had a diagnosis and a prescription. Her follow-up treatment, a few days later, was also over Whatsapp. (And for those interested, all is well.)

Long-distance medicine isn’t new. But, as my wife and doctor showed, all you need for it now is in the palm of your hand.

Doctor, Doctor (Part 2)

Speed Anatomy for Android

Techknowdoc, as the name implies, is a card-carrying member of the digital revolution. He uses Twitter to promote his blog, network with other medical professionals. And even uses his mobile phones to educate his nurses! 

He’s downloaded an app called Speed Anatomy for his nurses to play with. Here, they have to do something as basic as identify parts of the human anatomy at high speed, and earn points. (Techknowdoc himself plays with it when he’s bored at the clinic.)

For a nurse, who hasn’t had the same amount of education that a doctor has, there really isn’t a more fun and engaging way to learn. And if you can make learning fun for the student, that’s half the job already done.

Planners Love Insights

Google Insights

If they didn’t, how would the presentation decks they made have enough slides on it to show the client that they have indeed been working?

But often enough, agency folk don’t have time (or finances) to conduct researches. This is especially true during pitches, when the deadline field in the brief generally has yesterday’s date on it.

Enter Google Insights. A tool my teammates use frequently, and very, very well. So well, in fact, that the client often tells us that our research of search trends online actually mirrors what’s happening in his marketplace on-ground. Often, clients are quite astounded by the depth of insight we showcase in presentations – especially considering that we weren’t given that information in the brief.

It’s not a surprise either. More and more people are researching products and services online before making their final decision. What people search for is an accurate indicator of how they perceive the category and the brand. Making Google Insights a great consumer research tool even for mainline dinosaurs.

Sing Along

Shazam for Android

Nearly two years ago, my sister-in-law got an iPhone. And spent a lot of time showing it off to me. She was slowly figuring it out, discovering apps and uses, painfully getting familiar with the more intricate functions of the phone.

We were at Hard Rock Cafe, Mumbai, when she liked a song she was hearing for the first time. And, just like that, she whipped out her phone, clicked on an app called Midomi, and a minute later showed us the name of the song that was playing.

Midomi has long since been overtaken by Shazam and other apps. But entertainment is still high on the list of priorities for modern smartphone buyers. (Angry Birds isn’t one of the hottest-selling apps around for nothing.) So even if you’re not concerned with checking work email all the time, a GPRS connection is a must – just so you know that the song you’re listening to is When They Come For Me by Nickelback.


Twitter reflects the pulse of the city.

As I write this, Bombay is suffering a public transport nightmare. A burst CNG pipeline has resulted in autorickshaws and cabs running out of gas. So commuters are scrambling to call private cabs, hitching rides and all but falling off overcrowded buses.

And on Twitter, hordes of Bombayites are tweeting under the hashtag #cng. They’re cribbing, cursing, sharing news updates and offering solutions to the problem.

CNG is currently a trending topic on Twitter India. Because of ordinary folk reacting to an ordinary problem. Using what they’ve come to accept as a perfectly ordinary medium.

Like Art?

PoppadumArt is just one
of the new breed
of Facebook entrepreneurs.

There’s a entrepreneurship epidemic breaking out in Bombay. All around me, people I know are quitting their (fairly) high-paying jobs to start up companies based on their hobbies and interests.

In their previous lives, they were accountants, advertising account managers, bankers, marketing managers and salespersons. Today they own brands – brands that exist on Facebook.

Artists. Retail outlets. Comic book libraries. Fledgling ad agencies. Dating websites. Content curators. Medical professionals. Freelance writers. Culture companies. Filmmakers. These entrepreneurs can’t comprehend life without a Facebook Page for their brand. Better yet – they have developed (or are developing) an instinctive feel for how to use their little patch of owned media.

None of these ideas might come as new news to you – they certainly don’t to me.

But we’re seeing a trend here. That digital media, long perceived as the province of geeks like you and me, is quickly going mainstream.


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