Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Future is about TIME

Are we able to predict the next five years any better than we did the last five?

What is very clear is that technology and how we apply it is not only changing what we consume, but what we create, how we discover it, value it, share it and is changing our very culture. It was once said that we were no longer listening to music but starting to make it, no longer reading but starting to write our own stories, no longer just watching TV and films but starting to make them. Today these statements are very real and the tools and technology to create media is available to all, along with the channels to promote and sell It, with or without the middlemen. YouTube has started to redefine how many now discover and watch music, Shazam on how we discover it and the likes of Spotify on how we access it on demand.

We now live within a permanently ‘switched on’ environment, where we are accessible at all times and where we can access everything anywhere, anytime. We live with a mobile smartphone in our pockets which can now perform all our office functions, access everything, take pictures and videos, calculate the complex, locate where we are and what we are near, play music, videos, games and more in real time, interact via voice command, communicate with all and even still make and receive voice and now video calls.

Although we now have the smartphone technology in our pockets and the high speed connectivity to make everything happen, what does this mean to how we live? Are we now all creators, journalists, photographers, director, reviewers as well as consumers? The days when we relied on curators and professional reviewers of taste are now giving way to the social recommendations of what are often physical strangers. More importantly, as we become increasingly ‘open all hours’, do we become more discerning, or do we adopt an increasingly low attention channel hopping lifestyle?

Technology is becoming more intuitive. No longer are we wedded to a keyboard and a mouse, but at last we are now starting to become more dextrous and multi-taskers. With voice and even retina control commands becoming more common. The ‘sixth sense’ world envisaged by Pranav Mistry is now here, but is technology now enabling cultural change or responding to its demands?

Some believe that stuff (the various media forms ) will merge and what was once a single format story, video, audio, song is going to become all these plus a game and all rolled into one experience. Some believe that each media form will remain separate, but alternative formats will be immediately accessible on demand. Does it matter whether a story is in text, film audio, or is it more about the time we have to discover, digest and value it? Does multimedia demand more or less concentration than an audio file or a film? Does technology now give us the time to read the book or does it present us with too many alternative distractions and restrict our reading?

Many forget that the other aspect that is under constant threat is time. It is how we use our time and how technology helps us to achieve this that is probably the greatest cultural change.

So what of the next five years?

There will always be a need for quality time and that will demand quality solutions and stuff. What we have to think about is not the mix but the time. Media that was created to fit yesterday’s economic model, be it a cinema channel, space on a disc, or physical print press is still valid but now increasingly challenged by technology that is rebalancing those economics, channels and supply chains. We must start to create content that is not padded out or abridged to fit a form but is now built to fit time windows of lifestyle.

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