The Internet was built to connect people all over the world. That is its central purpose. We all use social networks, messaging apps, and voice/video calls on a daily basis to connect to our friends, loved ones, and colleagues. It’s hard to imagine a world where communication wasn’t as easy as it is now.
Co-creation has always existed online. But now, with increased bandwidth, better collaboration, and 3.2 billion people online, there are far more chances for co-creation. Now anyone can start their own movement or network, and they do.
We can see this desire for connection everywhere. It manifests itself in dramatic ways, both positive and negative. People connected on Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook to spark the Arab Spring that led to the downfall of repressive governments in the Middle East. Likewise, unpredictable and dangerous groups like Anonymous and LulzSec use private forums to plan attacks on corporates, countries, and organisations they don’t like.
Countless platforms support creative collaboration, or bring communities together around specific subjects or passions. Tools like Wikipedia, GitHub, and hitRECord have an open approach to ownership, allowing community members to shape the content the way they want it to be.
Sharing tools like Dropbox, Slack, and Mural allow people to create and collaborate together in ways that weren’t possible several years ago. The scale and complexity of these services will only grow over the next few years, making huge global co-creation projects even easier.
You may do great work inside your company, but do you collaborate and co-create with people from the outside? The diversity of skills, knowledge, and opinions that you can get from a co-creation project might far exceed those in your existing team. Co-creation demands openness, a willingness to relinquish control, and trust in other people.
Think about ways in which you could improve your products or services by enlisting the help of others, or connecting with communities on the other side of the world. How might you co-create something amazing?
The Constantly Connected Life was a trend featured in the last issue of this trend report, and its rise has continued. As more and more of our social lives move online, establishing 100% digital relationships will become commonplace. Our ability to effectively maintain long term friendships across boundaries and borders will increase. Eventually the difference between online and offline will disappear.
“We’re coming to terms with there being just one reality and digital is part of it, not any less real or true. What you do online and what you do face-to-face are completely interwoven.”Nathan Jurgenson, Sociologist and Researcher for Snapchat
We all experience these kinds of relationships to some extent. You send funny selfies to your girlfriend who lives in the next city; you exchange emails with a colleague on the 3rd floor, but never meet; you play video games with a stranger on the other side of the world.
We live in a world of increasing transience. The people we interact with, the places we go, the things we possess, and the jobs we do are changing faster than ever. Communication technologies help us to keep the most precious of our relationships constant.
Interestingly the data shows that for romantic relationships, the offline connection is still incredibly important. Only 8% of teens and 5% of adults in the US have met a partner online. But for friendships built around a shared passion, the Internet remains the place to be. There are millions of forums and image boards and Facebook groups devoted to the most esoteric of subjects.
Online relationships just aren’t weird any more. With apps like Facebook and RenRen demanding real identities, online anonymity is becoming a thing of the past. The online you is much more like you than before.
Think about the relationships that you have in your personal and professional life. How aligned are your online and offline behaviours? Are there any online relationships that you need to nurture? Or any offline ones? How are you balancing these?
As global digital connectedness increases at a relentless pace, we are clearly heading for a world where everyone is connected. This means a world where the boundaries between cultures are removed, requiring greater understanding and respect for diversity from us all.
In this globalized future, information circulates freely, hierarchies emerge and dissipate, and new and innovative subcultures flourish and wither at the whim of fashion. Perhaps the idea of nation states will gradually erode as the differences between cultures and countries become less relevant than the similarities.
Where do you sit on the spectrum from nationalist to globalist? Are you embracing the globalist ideals of free travel, fluid cultures, and international cooperation. Or are you more of a nationalist, placing importance on local cultural identity, local connections, and protecting the uniqueness of different nations.
The free flow of information is coming and will increase. New centres of information and power will be supported by smart encrypted communications tools, allowing rebels and freedom fighters to get their messages across. This will also give rise to global megastars, who will command legions of loyal fans and connect with them in a way that media personalities never have before.
The world is going to be a strange place in a few years’ time. Think about what effect a globalized culture might have on you and your work. How could you benefit from engaging more closely with different cultures right now? Read up on last issue’s Privacy trend and bring some of the insights from that into the discussion.
Seven years after the greed of bankers and the lack of oversight from governments led to a global financial crisis, the trend for services seeking to disrupt the banking industry is increasing. Trust in the establishment has gone, and people are turning to more democratic economic models.
Crowdfunding, crowd equity, and crowd lending all use digital platforms to create closer relations between the investor and the company, bypassing traditional investment structures. In the future, banks and stock markets will be hit, and the value will be in the networks that form around these companies.
There are subtle differences between the three approaches to raising funds:
These models aren’t necessarily new, but the way they are operating is, outside of the establishment, cutting out the middle man, to provide increased value for investors, companies, and individuals.
How might the social economy affect your work and life? Take a look at one of the platforms in your country and see if there’s anything you’d like to invest in. Then take that experience back to the workplace. How might you learn from it and bring those insights into the business?
With the rise of the Semantic Web, the products and services that we use on a daily basis are getting smarter. Every day we relinquish more and more decision-making control to digital services that have been designed to make our lives easier, and connect us with content and people that they think we want to see.
But this convenience also has a dark side. It is now easier than ever to be caught inside what Eli Pariser calls a “filter bubble.” He coined the term in 2011, and the trend towards more pronounced filter bubbles is not slowing down.
“They mediate more and more of what we do. They guide an increasing proportion of our choices — where to eat, where to sleep, who to sleep with, and what to read.”
Yelp’s algorithm tells you where to eat, AirBnB tells you where to sleep, Tinder who to sleep with, Amazon what to buy, Netflix what to watch, and Twitter what to read. The scale and sophistication of the filtering methods being employed by these digital giants is astonishing. What we gain in convenience and speed, we may easily lose in narrow-mindedness and homogeneity.
The Internet is an amazing place for communities of interest to form, and for movements to take shape. Barack Obama’s successful election campaign in 2008 mobilised thousands of community organisers across the US. Since then that community of like-minded people, that tribe, has morphed into “Organising for Action”, a movement of millions of Americans, coming together to fight for real, lasting change.
We all create our own little bubble around us, through the places we go, the people we spend time with, and the media we engage with. We need to remember to make space in our lives for challenge and spontaneity. Perhaps tech can help with that too.
Think about the bubbles inside your company. How diverse are the opinions and conversations within your teams? How might you challenge yourselves to think differently?
Your phone is the first thing you see in the morning and the last thing you see at night. As devices converge and the once-clear distinction between online and offline blurs, it becomes increasingly easy to connect with loved ones and colleagues across distances. Take a moment to think about how amazing that is. But for some this is too much; and the rise of the "digital detox" shows how many people find it hard to strike a balance in their daily life. For better or worse, the always-connected life is here to stay, and the onus is on us to navigate the challenges and find that balance. But how is this achieved? It's easy to waste time on social media, news feeds, and work tools. Take some time to reflect on your engagement with devices. What would you like it to be? What apps do you actually enjoy using? What are the things that you want to make time for? Be more conscious of your digital consumption. Seize control of your connected life.
With disruptive services such as Airbnb (home-listing) & Uber (car-sharing) reaching a tipping point, consumers are beginning to warm up to the idea of shared forms of ownership. The sharing economy in essence represents a decentralisation of possessions and skills. Why own something when you can share the burden and cost, and reallocate the money and time that you save? Why not use a network of skills to fulfill your individual needs? If you throw in the factor of lower environmental impact, it's no wonder people are choosing this over traditional forms of ownership. Welcome to the sharing economy. No company is safe.
The goods or services that your company provides are valued by your customers. But what if they suddenly stopped buying and started sharing? How might you anticipate this change, embrace it, and provide value in a more sustainable way?
We share more than ever, and the services that invite us to do so keep multiplying. Smart, data-driven companies make our lives easier by tracking our online behavior and tailoring their applications to our needs. But there are many voices of opposition against this trend; people who want to curtail the powers of companies and governments to use our private data for their means. Public debate continues after the NSA leaks of 2013, and barely a week goes by without data protection or online privacy news stories. Will we continue to relinquish our data in exchange for free services? How will attitudes to privacy shift as society becomes increasingly more open and social?
Take a moment to think about all of the applications and services that you use on a daily basis. How many of them are free? How many are used to broadcast your thoughts, feelings, and activities for all to see? The collection and use of personal data is a moral issue as well as a legal one. Decide where you and your organization stand.
We so often interact and collaborate with people in an online space before meeting them in person. It's a given that prospective employers and blind dates will have run a Google search on your name before you've shaken their hand or kissed them on the cheek. These are clear signals to the importance of crafting a personal digital brand. Think about it, you wouldn't want to ruin the first impression before you get a chance to really make it, right? What was previously the domain of freelancers and consultants, having a well-crafted and maintained online identity is quickly becoming an imperative for everyone.
Your digital footprints are the traces that you leave behind as you move through the Internet. It is often hard to know what these are. Activate "privacy mode" on your browser and search your own name in Google. What has come up? Is that what you want people to see first? You can take control of your digital footprint.
Your phone is the first thing you see in the morning and the last thing you see at night. As devices converge and the once-clear distinction between online and offline blurs, it becomes increasingly easy to connect with loved ones and colleagues across distances. Take a moment to think about how amazing that is. But for some this is too much; and the rise of the "digital detox" shows how many people find it hard to strike a balance in their daily life. For better or worse, the always-connected life is here to stay, and the onus is on us to navigate the challenges and find that balance. But how is this achieved?
It's easy to waste time on social media, news feeds, and work tools. Take some time to reflect on your engagement with devices. What would you like it to be? What apps do you actually enjoy using? What are the things that you want to make time for? Be more conscious of your digital consumption. Seize control of your connected life.
"Google before you speak" is the new "Think before you speak." We are no longer bound by the limits of our own perspectives, or by the knowledge we gained at school; instead all the world's information is at our fingertips, waiting to be consumed. The skills we need to navigate through this mass of data are unique; instead of learning things just-in-case we will need them in the future, we search and filter and learn from others just-in-time. Curiosity is king, and the network is all-powerful.
We challenge you to be curious. What's that thing that you always wish you knew? The gap in your knowledge or the skill you never mastered? Put a few hours aside, perhaps on a lazy Sunday afternoon, and Google it. Indulge your curiosity and grow. If that felt good then do it again, and again, and again, until you've learned all you can. Then choose something else. Learning is lifelong, and the constantly curious never stop learning.