Fig 1: Ross, excited.
There is a ton of cool stuff flying around at the moment, and rather than attempt some kind of comprehensive mega-list, here is a snapshot of why I think 2010 will rock.
1. Applications are hitting their stride; as a devoted iPhone user, i’ve downloaded many apps in the past 12 months, some terrible (countless crappy games spring to mind) and some inspiring (music apps such as RJDJ and Bloom), but more recently some really highly developed apps have captured my attention. Firstly, the Guardian showed how traditional media can thrive on such a platform with their beautifully executed app, and secondly game makers are capitalizing on the unique characteristics of the iPhone with games such as Doodle Jump; on paper it shouldn’t hold your attention for longer than five seconds, but in practice it’s painfully addictive.
As the app store reaches maturity, serious developers and content providers will continue to make headway amongst the bottom feeders, and more consumers will be happy to pay for genuine goodness. Add in increased iPhone power, bigger sexier Android phones and potential rumblings from Microsoft, and you have an exciting mobile themepark for developers to play in. Also, even the recent approval of adult-themed apps in the Apple app-store can only be a good thing seeing as how pornography has driven so many online innovations.
2. Properly good, targeted advertising; if like me, you enjoy total banner blindness from so much browsing, recent developments in behavioral targeting and the news that Facebooks’ partnership with MSN is coming to an end can only be a good thing. Whilst it would be wonderful if websites paid for themselves, the truth is that they don’t, and so for many sites advertising is a necessary evil. Therefore, it’s good that ads are becoming more and more suitable, to the point that they’re actually helpful. We (thankfully) may not reach the scary Minority Report style of advertising in 2010, but hopefully advertisers could get better and better at popping up with genuinely useful images and offers.
Taking this one step further, imagine a social layer to all advertising; in a similar way that Facebook suggests mutual friends, why not suggest mutual purchases? Amazon, ebay and a whole host of retail sites are doing this based on your own purchases, but I cannot think of an example of a truly human method of recommending products or services based on a complex and unique online persona. That would be good.
3. Music is getting more exciting; whilst some argue that all the best tunes have been written, in the tale end of 2009 and coming into 2010 there have been a whole load of artists that have made my head spin. As a big fan of dubstep the rise of peeps like Gaslamp Killer and Joy Orbison is brilliant as for me it represents an exciting and futuristic area of music; this isn’t electronica for the sake of electronica, it’s genuine creativity using the best technology at hand.
Also, if 2009 saw Spotify make a foothold in the online music space, 2010 should hopefully see it reach its potential. Once you get past the giddying breadth of choice, its uses as a collaborative experience are amazing. Here in the office we’ve recently set up a company account with group playlists for different days and moods, including Soundtrack Tuesday and the infamous Love Hour™, which means that we save a whole load of time discussing music selection, and get to enjoy the whole range of interests housed within our team. Take this one step further and you can imagine large corporates (or even councils and governments) setting up and encouraging motivational playlists, creating highly regarded curators in the process. The Now series (and many others) could even evolve from its current incarnation as a crappy double CD, to being a nationally sourced, collaborative playlist available to the consumer for a minimal fee, with some kind of special content to warrant a fee, if any.
4. Real stuff matters; as somebody who works online, it’s important to remember how much we appreciate ‘real’ stuff. We occasionally forget that as more and more things are made easier online, it’s actual, touchy-feely goodness that drives us as human beings; like the way as people lament the loss of tangible CDs or vinyl when they get hooked into Spotify. I spent a lot of time before Christmas making a couple of Blurb books as presents, and after what felt like days of tweaking photos and adding captions, the joy of receiving, and then giving, real/readable/breakable books was immense. Blurb is not alone, there are many sites that offer real life outputs for virtual inputs, like this one for knitted hats made by actual grannies.
As an agency, in brainstorms we think about the needs of the audience and the objectives of the client, before thinking about whether it might be a WordPress build or Twitter feed etc. If the audience demands physicality, and the client is offering real-world stuff, then any online presence should enable this rather than attempt to replace it. By remembering that we are driven by experiences and ‘things’, hopefully throughout 2010 we will be able to bring all-encompassing realness to our clients.
5. Intelligence explosion; this is a random one, but resulted from a conversation I had with Max and Will. Talking about singularity, I stumbled across the idea of an ‘intelligence explosion’; this wiki article does a great job of explaining it, but basically it’s the theory that as soon as human’s create technology even a tiny bit smarter than ourselves, there will be a huge surge in intelligence as machines think for themselves in ways that human’s cannot, meaning that “the first ultraintelligent machine is the last invention that man need ever make.”
Now, whilst i’m not thrilled about this kind of outcome, part of me is incredibly curious as to what artificial intelligence could create. Forgetting about war machines and Austrian cyborgs, imagine the music or architecture or even recipes that a higher level of logic and thinking could create. Then imagine the layer of human intelligence and emotion that could be applied to this, and the beautiful result of the two. I’m sure we’re a long way off, but I think it’s definitely something to be aware of.
So, there you go, a random collection of things that are keeping me happy. Feel free to add your own below, or question mine :)