Written by: Michael Braun, Grit Development

Remember when we “strolled” through the newspaper looking for that written treasure in the midst of beautiful pictures advertising brands and events? Memorizing the content to use in conversations at home or at work.  Being upset, if we could not recollect key sections.  The introduction of the “iPhone” (smartphone), e-mail, and social media changed all that overnight.  Everything can now be organized on one small device to be shared immediately and pulled up anytime.  But do we understand the content anymore or is it just fleeting as we get bombarded with Internet ads, new e-mail content and more articles we constantly save but never read?

Sitting in a cafe in Europe on a family vacation enjoying a coffee and reading a newspaper in print made me realize what I have been missing these past few years; Taking time to read and absorb.  While I enjoy reading the New York Times, my three teenagers are jailed in their Snapchat, Instagram or other social media apps experiencing enhanced pictures or short videos giving them a glimpse of what they might miss back home. Who has the more meaningful experience?  The couple in the latest iPhone ad sharing their favorite song streamed via iPhone and wireless headphones into their brains or the couple at the Staples Center, COACHELLA festival or theater enjoying “live” music in a beautiful setting. An experience the Internet or any technology device will never be able to offer.

Technology gives us more time, extends our memory and the iPhone acts as our new “companion” to help with daily tasks. The “companion” organizes us, reminds us and gives us the feeling of “belonging” as random people like our posts or congratulate us on posted articles we found strolling through the Internet. But did they really even read it?

Life is about experiencing things, feeling them, and creating memorable events. Our brains are built for chemical reactions triggered by visual and live experiences, touching humans or products.  There is no doubt technology is here to stay, however, there is also no doubt brick and mortar, printed books, newspapers, music events and other experiences are enjoying an unexpected Renaissance.  Newspapers especially will benefit from a sudden recognition that “truth” is a thing again. I call it regression to the mean.

Touring Versailles in Paris with my daughter, I witnessed visitors willing to stand 3 hours in line to enjoy a 25-minute walk through the palace using their smartphones to create selfie memories of rooms and statues, pictures they could have downloaded for free on the internet.

Real Estate Developers must reinvent themselves to bring engaging and memorable experiences to their properties.  Efficiencies are now the new 'norm', booking a restaurant on OpenTable in a few seconds, review and book a hotel via Expedia and of course the proclaimed Retail future “Alexa” from Amazon, however, the actual experience will never be replaced by technology. Amazon and Walmart will become the sole stores for everything we think we need in one place at one “Prime” click. The meaningful social experience of restaurants, bars, customized boutique stores simply connecting with qualified sales staff, enjoying life with family and friends or touring culture will only be found in the real and not virtual or augmented world we are learning to live in.

Michael Braun -