He’s dead Jim!
Whenever I see this little face popup, I smile. If you don’t already know, the “he’s dead Jim” message is a quote from Star Trek. This line was regularly uttered by the Enterprise’s chief medic played by DeForest Kelley in the original (and best) series. Geek or not this page says a lot about how a company like Google operates and connects with people even down to the smallest detail.
Google is a company of around 38,000 (Q1 2013) and despite its size, manages to present both a professional and comforting image. This is quite a feat of marketing and one not achieved by “faceless” corporations such as Microsoft, Vodafone, banks and energy companies. But what is it that Google have done which means their software can fail and the consumers turn the proverbial cheek?
Part of their success is down to the quality of their products. The simplicity of their user interfaces and the integration of their software is a pleasure to interact with. This makes people feel like the technology is working for them, rather than against them; and it makes people feel smart. Like the iphone, Google is your willing assistant, always on hand to make your day a little bit easier.
Another essential piece of the puzzle is humanity. This little message when something goes wrong shows that Google has a sense of humour, that it’s playful and also directs the user’s attention away from the web browser and towards the page itself. The message is giving the page that’s failed to open a life which means that even though it’s ‘died’, Google is sad for you.
The traditional view of a corporation is that of a machine. There are several problems with this, not least the fact that the consumer sees a machine as soulless. The corporation is an outdated militaristic model which thrives in wartime and when the people pushing the buttons and pulling the levers are mindless drones. But the fact is there are no longer drones, everyone has a voice, social media has seen to that.
In an age when it seems like everything is becoming automated, consumers value humanity. Humanity is the ‘commodity’ which is more scarce, hence a handwritten letter is noticeable amongst the piles of junk mail. Corporations need to get on board with companies like Google and recognise the value of humanity before their beloved machines are tripped up by more agile and creative humans. In the war against the machines, in people’s minds, mankind always wins.