Category Archives: Magic

The Magic of Copperfield and Technology

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Arthur C. Clarke

Magic is a fantastic phenomenon, one that highlights the power and impact of illusion. We believe the laws of the world, yet they are seemingly challenged right before our eyes. If anything, you KNOW it’s an illusion, yet the means of achieving that illusion remain elusive.

In this light, I’ll start this series off with some edutainment: one of my favourite magicians, David Copperfield! I’ve taken inspiration from his techniques, and feel that he has insight to offer in the fields of interactive engagement… Plus, who doesn’t like a magic show 😉

The thrill of interacting with this act added greatly to the impact of this interactive video. As always, there is a way to break the illusion down to its factual components. But doing so takes a bit away from the mystery and delight… Or offers additional insight into creating your own illusions.

Here is one of his most acclaimed illusions, disappearing the Statue of Liberty:

Sidenote: Gotta love that classic 90s style eh!

In my search for this video, the second most popular auto-filled suggestion was indeed, “how he did it”. Many of us have an inherit desire to understand a complex technology, and I respect that greatly! We’re tinkerers. We like to figure things out. I encourage this!

Here’s one of his more orchestrated acts, Death Saw. Watching this for the first time, it’s easy to get caught up int he fantastic spectacle. For myself, I love trying to figure out how he pulls it off!

So how does David Copperfield’s magic relate to technology? I put forth the thought that having a bit of smoke and mirrors in our apps and programs is an exciting way to increase interaction and comprehension. Adding a bit of mystery – such as through creative writing, smart user experience, predictive input, and targeted analytics – increases engagement, as people are given a drive or simple reason to figure the system out.

Yes, in an ideal world people would be naturally motivated to master their tools, however in today’s gamification nation it’s no surprise that people’s attention is taken away. I propose we take it back by bringing in a higher level of edutainment to our offerings.

Excitement is infectious in the best way. To have an ecosystem where users are intrinsically motivated to try and learn due to their own excitement – to me, one couldn’t wish for a better outcome!

What do you think? Leave a comment below 🙂