THE EMERGING PRESENT
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Chasing Value in Everyday Experiences
It is in the ambiguous domain of 'value' that most products succeed or fail; some fail because their value is temporary and accidental, as they were designed from the 'outside-in,' from the form of the object to its interactive features; others succeed because their value was the very starting point of the design process. They were designed from the 'inside-out,' from the value proposition outward, from the desired outcome to what makes the outcome.
But what is value in this context? Value gives things their worth in the eyes of a user. It also gives the thing its appeal to users. Value is the worth of something to someone. And in this sense, it has a diminishing scale or worthiness.
In marketing, value is sometimes referred to as perceived value, which is how a user might look at the product in comparison with another product. Value is subjective and relational, it is how we relate one thing to another, and this is why value depends so much on perception and cognition, and memory.
Another way to look at value is to look at what we are willing to exchange in return. And in this sense, not where we need to exchange in terms of material goods and services, but what we are willing to exchange that is immaterial. Our time. Our behavior. The more behavior we invest in a product or service, the more value it holds for us. Which means that technology is never what is monetized; it is behavior that is monetized. And this behavior diminishes in importance or value as we move through the behavior cycle of a product or service. The more we use something, the more we demand new value from it. Is the new value of something that maintains the satisfaction of our relationship with that something.
As we invest ourselves in using a platform, the nature of our desires, goals and motivation changes, and we end up seeking more, looking for more from the same product or service. This is the perpetual dynamic of a behavior cycle
Figure 1.1 The behavior cycle
(Figure 1.1), rooted in our perpetually-seeking mediums for bettering ourselves in the near future, and the means to achieve our best selves in the present. The value of a product or service is proportional with its capability of becoming the perfect medium by which our motivating goals are satisfied.
Value has a personal dimension, in that it is purely subjective. Value evolves over time with the accumulation of life experiences and the exposure of the individual to a variety of 'value moments.'
Value and personal identity are interconnected—we are the sum of our value moments and value assessments—which is why people place so much value on their online social presence and activity. This stems from the human condition of 'plurality'—discussed later in this book—and from the desire to leave a mark and participate. More than anything, we value the image people have of ourselves, an image we are trying to construct and reconstruct by any means technologically available.
What we do all day in our online activities is chasing value moments, expressed as emotional connections with ideas or with others. Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter—to name just a few well-known platforms—are means by which individuals express their worth in the community of others. These behavior platforms are 'stages' on which individuals perform from their intrinsic motivation, because they want to be seen, they want to be heard, and they want to be measured on these performances by others.