Eight trends for the future

I have been thinking about were things are going and boiled this down into eight areas. Some of these areas overlap and enable each other, so it’s often hard to tease apart the post-modern tangle into neat categories and drill down into these in more depth in future posts:

  • Social hygiene – social as a channel has become engrained into our lives just like the mobile phone, the web and the telephone directory before it. It is no longer a brave new frontier, but a place were audiences expect brands to have even a minimal presence. In the same way that a business without an office address, company accounts or website that can be Googled is found suspect, so it is with their presence on social properties now. In addition, there are consumer expectations to be met in the way that they expect to be able to transact business
  • Contextual technology – from the rise of search to location-based services and consumer preference for applications – much of this has been driven by consumer preference for informations and services that are contextually relevant
  • Divergence – whilst smartphones and tablets may look like general purpose devices that support convergence what is actually happening is that divergence is taking place around different fault lines, understanding those fault-lines is key
  • Prosumption realised – the idea of consumers being the producers, or at least being part of the process within a modern industrial context was envisioned back in 1970 with Alvin Toffler’s book Future Shock as consumers started to be more involved in the delivery of their own services and products from ATMs to phone calls made without operator intervention. The internet has extended it further
  • Brands as online tribes – brands are as much totems of who we are online as in real-life. Communities allow us to self-reinforce our passions in a way that wasn’t possible before. This is further reinforced by algorithms to provide the audience with only the world view they want to see
  • Web-of-no-web – the web as we know it was built on a set of underlying technologies which enable information transport. Not all information is mean’t to reside in a database to be searched, but instead relies on context like location, weather or the contents of your fridge. Web technologies provided an lingua franca for these contextual settings and mobile technologies have facilitated them further. What hasn’t been done too well so far has been the interface to the human
  • Immersive as well as interactive experiences – at the moment the focus has been on interactive content. But contrary to the belief of technologists good quality older passive mediums didn’t disappear. The reason for this was that they allowed consumers to immerse themselves in them, suspend disbelief in ways that haven’t yet been done by interactive media
  • Digital interruption – by the late 1950s the US civil rights movement found that discourse and letters hadn’t moved the needle meaningfully and it took events like Rosa Parkes sit-down protest and the Stonewall riots to move the process forwards towards a more equal rights for all. Underlying internet technologies have facilitated a step-change in protest; moving from vigorous discourse and petitions to website blackouts; denial of service attacks, defacement and account hacking (a digital equivalent of an effective picket line)