Yesterday, senior SharePoint storyteller Mark Miller delivered a keynote about thinking outside the box with respect to where technology is going in the future. He described the convergence of technologies into one device by showing a video of the landmark Steve Jobs announcement of the first iPhone, and he noted that we’re still in the very early stages of computing power, communication, entertainment, lifestyle and business technology coming together onto one device.

Miller then introduced Dr. Michael Wu, chief scientist at Lithium Tech out here in Silicon Valley, who discussed the importance of understanding human behavior in developing computing systems. If you don’t have user participation, he said, the best systems in the world will go untouched. He discussed three factors underlying human behavior: motivation, ability, and then a trigger to action. When the three come together, he said, you have action. Some people, he said, call this gamification—creating a system of motivations (or rewards) to get people to click a button or complete a user profile.

To trigger people to action, you have to anticipate what a user would want to do. “Perhaps you guide them through workflow options,” said Wu. “Well, limit those options so they don’t have to use up the mental cycle, which is also a resource.”
With gamification, you can track the actions of the user and provide feedback to get more positive action.

Miller also introduced Dan Corr, who works in immersive technologies. He described creating a theater “dreamscape” that included the audience in the environment. “With 3D, you don’t want to have a ‘fourth wall.’ You want people to be in it, to interact with it,” he said.

Corr went on to say that any surface should have the opportunity to be informational, and Miller pointed out that this opens up the discussion of what technology can do for us, and how SharePoint might be an underlying data storage technology to help make that journey.

Finally, Miller brought up SharePoint consultant Marc Anderson, who created SPServices, a jQuery library that lets you work with SharePoint Web services. He displayed a page he created that pulled in Twitter and Yammer feeds, and showed how it can be customized by column type.

Miller summarized that the platform isn’t the limitation. “If you put a box around SharePoint,” he said, “you’re creating your own limitations.”