Wednesday, January 17, 2007

What will be the Next Big Thing at the digital world?

Teens and youth turned social networking into an international phenomenon. Messenger, YouTube, MySpace and picture galleries (Hi5, IRC-galleria, were the last wonders of the Internet. But what will the next Big Thing? How youngsters keep amazing us with new innovations and ways of (mis-)using technologies for their own purposes?

Let's start with randomly picked trends. 1) Urbanisation, 2) Premiumisation, 3) Happiness, 4) Personalisation, 5) Ageing, 6) Anxiety, 7) Globalisation and 8) Ethics. At first the list of megatrends seems rather lame. Wasn't personalisation, globalisation and all that in the headlines already five years ago? But aging is definitely an interesting trend. 'For every 100 persons aged 20-64 in 2050, we can expect 57 persons aged 65 and over.' Conclusion: should we focus on seniors instead of youngsters? Seniors have all the money and time not to mention their health and vividness! Actually VTT has already started "Idea movement for the elderly people" to involve seniors in the innovation processes.

Another trendsniffer Communication Experts Need to Know believes in video, online advertising, online music listening, content aggregation, independent publishing, web conferences, web-based presentation tools, mobile group messaging, P2P casting, visual search engines and web metrics. This is another great list of things -- which already exist! Perhaps Google could reform the online advertising? But I would quess that mobile group messaging is not there yet. There might be some interesting cross media (online+mobile) entertainment (read: games) solutions on their way though. In able to get the general picture of let's say "web2.0" I could use visual search in able to see and understand the relations between social software and RFID tags for example. In general I prefer 'the-faster-the-better' solution plain and simple instead of complex trend-'mindmaps' of anything and everything.

The conclusion? Trend lists are often too general. I quess 'born global' (when talking about the youth), alternative forums, cross-multi-media, 2D bar codes for marking and urban zones will be issues we will see in the near future. Already now youth facilities in Finland have expanded to the online worlds. Maybe the next step is to make another link back to the real world -- to urban zones and areas where youth hang around? Global (online) fingermark seems to be another 'trend'. Youth want to be visible in a broad range of real and virtual forums. They want to build up recognizable online identity and existence. When it comes to actual services or products... hm.. that is a tricky one. I quess voyerism, micromovies, videoblogs and 'espionage' will become more common. Mobile phone (camera) and online video portals will be the technical enablers of that. Also I believe virtual worlds (SecondLife, Habbo, etc.) will be applied more for utility purposes (education, remote work, youth work, cultural activities...). In Finland there already is one signals towards this direction. "Virtual youth facility called Netari" already exists in Habbo Finland. Would it [finally] be the right time for elearning? We'll see! At least various quidance and support services seem to be on the rise.

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