Predicting the future is a fascination for many - some may want to be assured of their personal accomplishments, but businesses also want to be prepared for what's ahead. Working with futurists can bring companies significant competitive edge, allowing them to organize, hire, produce for consumer wants and needs in the next decade.
Looking over the World Future Society's latest outlook report, I would like to call out a few predictions that might affect the tech and communication industries:
1- Computers will store memory using light, rather than electrons. This will increase their storage capacity by 1,000%. (Think, we'll be able to process information faster, save and transfer more electronically. More entertainment will shift online, we'll store less paper.)
2- Health-related gaming will be used to train caregivers and health workers. Some patients will even be able to treat themselves. (Check out great work already done by Games for Health and Health Games Research.)
3-Identity theft and other online crimes will increase.
4-Social roles will continue to transfer online, unchanged. More girls will become victims of cyberbullying.
5- The Internet will become more factually reliable and more transparent. (There is actually research on how crowd-sourcing on wikis during disasters or catastrophic events yields accurate information.)
So, it looks like we'll get more and better information at a faster rate, but the fallacies of human nature will remain.
Yet another birthday I learned (sorry, remembered!) through bluemountain.com. I love the site - it has come a long way since its inception when users sent images around. Now, almost every creation is animated. But it's time to take it to the next level with augmented reality. I came across this post in Oddcast's latest e-newsletter. The company, known for its talking heads and avatars, is demoing augmented reality. They are meshing live video with animated characters. You can try it for yourself: Go here to see an example. If you have a Webcam ready, you can interact with the animated guitar player at oddcast.com/augmented. All you have to do is to turn on your camera, print a badge from here, hold it up to your Webcam and magically, a cartoonish guitar player pops up on your face. The badge becomes his stage. You can move your hands towards him to see if he'll fall off the stage. He'll jump and keep on rocking.
Now, wouldn't it be fun to record a personal video message for a friend and plug in a three-dimensional, animated character to jazz it up. Your friend could then interact with the animated character while he/she listened to your message.
Imagine what this could do for brands and fans. You could finally dance on the same stage with Michael Jackson, have cans of Coke and wear your favorite designer's clothes from the comfort of your desk. Brands could provide the tools on a micro-site to fans and let them create their own clips, mixing video with animation.
This is not a joke. The prestigious Royal Opera House, in partnership with Deloitte, used Twitter to get audiences to write the plot line for an opera. Check them out @youropera. The crowdsourced opera will be performed as part of the Deloitte Ignite Festival in the next few days. You can follow the journey of the Twitter Opera on the ROH's blog. A snapshot of the plotline, which I am copying from their blog, is as follows:
"At the end of Act One, Scene One, William is languishing in a tower, having been kidnapped by a group of birds who are anxious for revenge after he has killed one of their number. Hans has promised to rescue him. The Woman With No Name is off to her biochemistry laboratory to make a potion to let people speak to the birds."
May sound a bit quirky, but it sure helped ROH find a new audience segment and draw younger people to their theatre. After all, the opera was originally intended as entertainment for the masses - no?
Last October, I had the honor of speaking at the first digital marketing conference organized in Russia. Speaking with our colleagues in Moscow, I had became aware of the potential of "bringing the State to the Web." Well, it's been happening bit by bit. Here's the latest from President Medvedev on YouTube. Too bad I don't speak Russian, so I can't understand what he's saying. While the subtitles are in Cyrillic, the headlines are in English. So the page still gives me a sense of the various touch points President Medvedev's office is creating. Here's a look at some personal photos from the President's album. (Notice he's a Mac user :-)) And here's entertaining animation for children.
I had often wondered about the politics of speaking in your mother tongue when addressing people as the Head of State. Switching to another language can sometimes be a graceful gesture to that country's people. Sometimes it may mean straying away from your national identity. So, I don't think Medvedev's office would create an English version of the page to reach a broader audience. Kremlin speaks Russian. But it'll be interesting to see if a situation arises where Medvedev chooses to do a video in English, speaking to American audiences on matters concerning the two countries. Until then, we'll go brush up on our Russian.
This gives me hope. The meeting of entrepreneurs, non-profits and for-profits feels utopian but it is real. Using money in meaningful ways is the tag line. Here's a look at what attendees will discuss in the next couple of days.
1- Measurement 2- Mobile technology 3- Online action platforms 4- The Office of Social Innovation - government's partnerships with social innovators
While the latter is specific to the social capital world, the first three is what we have been discussing in the for-profit world all year long. In fact, these topics are top of mind as my colleagues and I are working on the upcoming WOMMA conference agenda.
I wonder if those who are trying to move the masses to take civic or charitable actions are more successful in social media than those trying to convince the masses to shop and choose their brands. I can see people being equally passionate about a cause and a brand. But social media makes it so much easier to join and support a cause. Raising your hand or your voice online cost very little time or money.