I have mentioned some of these sites before, such as NeighborGoods, ShareSomeSugar and Swap, in previous posts, but this is a trend that must be taken seriously. Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers have shared an extremely insightful view of how we are moving towards a world of sharing and renting, as opposed to owning (‘What’s Mine is Yours’ – well worth reading). It is changing a mind-set started in the 1950s of hyper-consumerism, where all our ills were swept under the carpet with just another purchase. So the old community activities and sharing were quietly eased out of the picture as we focused on number one (me, me, me). Technology is facilitating change and allowing cool sites such as ZipCar, Freecycle, thredUP, Ecomodo, Landshare and CouchSurfing to bring together people with a specific need (ie. somewhere to stay during a trip overseas) with those that have something to share (ie. a spare couch for travellers). What is most pleasing is that hard working people who gave up their leisure time and hobbies so that they could afford bigger houses and cars are now utilising the benefits of technology to claw back some of that valuable time. Back in the depression of the 1930s, President Roosevelt in the US shut down the country’s banks for a week, and many stores and practitioners were paid not in cash, but in home-grown groceries, batteries, oil and tobacco. Whilst we may not be heading back to the 30s, technology is helping to drive new thinking, where we don’t need to own a physical CD to listen to music, don’t want the DVD but want the movie; in other words, we want not the physical goods but the experience. Here is another, very relevant, quote from Bill McKibben, from his book Deep Economy: “For most of human history, the two birds ‘More’ and ‘Better’ roosted on the same branch. You could toss one stone and hope to hit them both. Now you’ve got the stone of your own life, or your own society, gripped in your hand, you have to choose between. It’s More or Better.” I like that.
The annual gadget extravaganza is under way in Las Vegas and thousands are there to digest the announcements. I read, and like, the term “intelligence of things” from the event, and manufacturers are upgrading their products with technologies such as GPS, internet and bluetooth to inject connectivity and new life into them. “Everything connected” appears to be the trend and connectivity will spread beyond computer-related devices to everyday products such as meat thermometers and toasters. Hardware will be worthless without the app.
Here are my three closing thoughts for 2010:
1. As we transition to the cloud, I am seeing an increase in the US of sites that cater to borrowing, such as NeighborGoods, ShareSomeSugar and SnapGoods. Will we move away from ownership and borrow everything? Quite possibly – and if we no longer collect books, music and movies, it will also free up shelf space too.
2. Social media was headline news all year. Will this evolve into Social TV, with billions of TVs connected to the internet and allow you to run live commentaries with your acquaintances? Will we ever be left alone again? We need to get used to a life where others are looking in.
3. Finally, and most importantly, research at Princeton University discovered that £47,000 is the level of income beyond which there is no improvement in emotional well-being. How interesting. Could this figure be the perfect balance between challenge, satisfaction and a stress-free day?
Whatever does or doesn’t materialise, we must get accustomed to change. It is taking place whether we like it or not. Personally, I enjoy it.
I have no idea how tomorrow’s devices will shape up, but I do know they are taking over the world and most of us will be online for longer. There are 1.8 billion internet users (half of them from just 5 countries), Tencent in China is the largest social network with 637m users, the ramp-up time for new products in this space is setting new records (28 days to sell the first million iPads), Oprah has 4.5m Twitter followers, commerce and shopping is now on your handheld device, and Steve Jobs (genius) remains king of the jungle! Are you a part of the Facebook/Apps/Google revolution – is your company and product fast/easy/fun – if not, you are standing still, and may well get left behind.
Twitter is adding a new dimension to television. Watching TV whilst tweeting is like listening to live commentary. It also turns a solitary pastime like watching TV into a communcal one, and you get to have your say. It is time Twitter was incorporated into plasma TVs for same-screen action and TV audiences for political debates include the Twitter brigade.
As somebody who commutes to London often, and travels overseas occasionally, I am surprised to read about Brain Shot by Random House publishers. This is a product that distills regular books into a 10,000-word, 60-page e-book for people in a rush, on the go and no time to read. For example, John Barrow’s “100 essential things” has been reduced from a 340-page book by 80%. Part of the beauty of books is to learn, get-away-from-it-all and lose yourself in the pages. Is that excused because it has been given the ‘technology effect?’
With technology so powerful, how can we use it to create what Tom Peters calls the “Two-Cent Candy Phenomenon?” Small differentiators, such as a store with a box of two-cent candies at the checkout, or a jar of sweets at the immigration desks at Singapore airport. Small touches that are so memorable. So many ways to add a touch of ‘wow’, how can technology help us by adding ‘small gestures’ to our business?
Attended a few good events recently; presented at the British Telecom apprentice managers event in Gatwick, Brokerbin’s UK partner meeting in Manchester and the ElementK Learning Practitioners seminar in St Paul’s. Some excellent new contacts through those, and enjoyed them all. By far, this was the best thing I heard: “The best things in life aren’t things.”
A study by Gartner revealed that in the next 3 years, more than 50 million IP addresses will come from automobiles. One day, there will only be one network, one global wireless network which everybody, and every device, will be permanently connected to; and we may not need gadgets, as our skin, our clothing and our glasses carry enough technology to keep us in touch.
Read a great story in Wired UK about a guy who printed nearly US$7,000,000 in fake currency using home printers from his local computer store. Just goes to show how good the technology is in these machines. I wonder how many print cartridges he used. Don’t go getting ideas in your new year’s resolution list…