Posts Tagged future
This post is, I guess, about the intersection of an article I recently read in the Globe and Mail and a video I saw on how we have developed a culture that loves the remix. In the article, which is about generating killer ideas, many great strategies stick out, but ‘borrow an idea’ is in there, and that’s one of my favourite. As the author rightly points out, there is very little need to create totally original things. A lot of the beauty of creation comes from combining two things that already exist in an interesting way. Now, I’ll let the video I mentioned pick up where I left off:
Great examples are all around us. What is amazing to me is two particular features that stand out about our culture of remix. The first is just is how quickly these things take shape. For example, it was probably a month ago that the Double Rainbow Guy took us by storm (video here). A day later, I was in Starbucks ordering a double-tall latte, and the guy behind the counter gave me a chuckle when he said, ‘whoa, a double latte all the way’, and two days after that, there was the Double Rainbow remix song (video here), which I heard on the radio a day later.
I mean, it’s obvious that when you give people the tools and you connect everyone and everything, this is where you’ll end up (given hindsight at least), but to think about what this means for the future is perhaps more interesting. Which brings me to the second interesting thing, and that is the fact that no one is generally getting paid to create these remixes. People do it because they can and because they want to create, or share, or are passionate about something. Clay Shirky gives us a term which allows us to quantify the ability of our culture to create further remixes (or other things, for that matter) – cognitive surplus. The video below is well worth the time.
Social media will likely follow this same cycle. First it is everything, then it is nothing and it was all a big waste of time, and then we’ll find out it really is necessary and relevant and important. So after all that, we’ll end up with the equivalent of websites everywhere, of needing a website, but of course I’m talking in terms of tweets or whatever they will be known by then. You will need your check-ins, your facebook fans, your contests, your mentions, your online referrals and reviews, or whatever all of that is known as by then.
So assuming all this is correct, that still leaves us with what to do with that information. I’m not advocating you go and try and invest in social media companies (not that it’s even possible given that they are all generally privately held), but rather that you think about how this changes the way people will interact with each other, and with companies. Then, if you’re like me, you’ll think about what it would take to build a product that will be needed then. For example, consider the intersection of social media, augmented reality (AR), and online booking applications. If we’re connected to each other through smart phones and geolocation, it would not surprise me to have ads or referrals pushed to me when walking past shops in the future (indeed, I’m told this already happens in many places such as Asia). But what if I could then take my phone and point it at a shop – an AR overlay appears and I see that there are a few open spaces for a haircut or maybe a massage in the next 30 minutes and, lo and behold, the reviews are there too – my friend has gone here and gave it 5 stars. Because the time slots are perishable, booking now means I’ll save some money, and that’s great, because not only do I like discounts, but I also like not sitting and waiting for things. Instead, I would love to be able to book that massage instantly and then go grab a coffee or do some quick shopping instead of sitting and waiting for it.
And you know what, I’m sure that product or experience will one day exist. So it’s up to us to go make it, because that’s a better world, and that’s where the tools are telling us we can go.
Here’s another vision of a possible future:
Here is one of my favourite activities: think about the future in regards to technology, and then think about where we are going, and what people will want, and why, and what they will pay for that. You can’t do this aimlessly (not productively anyway); you must have a specific area in mind.
For example, let’s consider how Apple got to its decision about pushing AppleTV more aggressively. Did they wait to see if people wanted pay-as-you-go programming? Not really, because if you wait for something like that to show up you’re usually too late to the party. They probably looked around the world 10 years ago and started thinking about what the world look like 10 years forward. How would we watch TV? What would we watch? Why? What if p2p sharing goes bigger? In 2000, it clearly appeared that the genie was out of the bottle and would not get put back in. So, barring a p2p blocking technology, the future then was always going to be in finding and stealing entertainment online. Some people would continue to pay cable operators of course, but increasingly (and young folk especially) would be questioning why they would pay $50-100/month when they only watch a few shows a month and having all-you-can-eat cable means you end up watching more shows than you want to anyway. But maybe pay-as-you-go, a model we had been seeing with some cell phone users, might do the trick. You pay only for the stuff you want and none of the crap you don’t want. And the price had to be very low or otherwise you’d be tempted to steal. So, in the future you will pay for each show and it will be streamed live to your television for $0.99. That, my friends, is the future (which is here!)
So consider all that for a moment. Consider that all of these things were set in motion at least 10 years ago. You need to also remember that we as humans tend to overstate the short-term implications of a new technology and understate the long-term ramifications of said technology. It wasn’t long ago when p2p sharing started gaining traction and many pointed to the imminent demise of all commercial recordings. Did that happen? Of course not. But certainly p2p sharing has changed the commercial music landscape dramatically and altered the way we digest music digitally, how artists share it, how they promote their work, all (in my opinion) for the better. But let’s bring it back to today’s world. Yes, all these things were set in motion a long time ago. Yes, there are disruptive technologies being shaped and created every day. Which ones will greatly affect the world in 10 years? How will they change the world? And how can you ride the wave that gets you there?
My name is Darren Negraeff - I'm the Marketing Director for Zafin Labs - we create pricing and billing innovations for banks and financial institutions. When I'm not at work you can find me throwing a disc for my dog Sally or staring in wonder at my tomato plants. Or poring over a book - I love to read. These days I read mostly non-fiction, but I have an extensive library of fiction as well.
I'm interested in theory of the mind and cognitive science, how ideas spread through society, behavioural economics, advertising, internet marketing, and the rise of microcredit. I will try to keep to these topics, though wandering is inevitable.
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