The future isn’t what it used to be

The future isn’t what it used to be
SHARE
THIS



Prospection, the act of looking forward in time, is a quintessentially human endeavour. In fact, some consider it the quintessential human endeavour.

Psychologist Dan Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness (and star of a recent Prudential campaign in the US) says: “The human being is the only animal that thinks about the future.”

This is why we are able to evolve, culturally. We don’t just react to the immediate, we are always playing chess a few steps ahead, and we can learn from the accumulated wisdom of the past.

Digital technologies triggered an exponential explosion. Moore’s Law is the beat that drives changes, doubling what’s possible every 18 months, while the price halves. This is really, really weird.

No other technologies change this rapidly. Cars do not get twice as fast and half as expensive every 18 months. In fact, cars haven’t changed very much at all in 50 or even 100 years, at their very essence. 

But microchips do change exponentially.

Gauging the rate of cultural evolution, however, is another matter. This is what causes ideas to come to market prematurely, like the Apple Newton, or most things in DotCom One. Designer Bill Buxton, principal scientist at Microsoft Research, calls this the ‘Long Nose of Innovation’.

Technologies that go on to have global scale, like multi-touch, take an average of 20 years to be refined enough, cheap enough, designed enough and understood enough, to become mass.

One of the unforeseen effects of the exponential turn in the road was on our collective imagination. Science fiction is the domain of the speculative, showing engineers possible futures to try and create. Google Earth, and Second Life, were both created when engineers read Snow Crash by Neil Stephenson and tried to build ideas they saw on the pages. But something happened just after the turn of the millennium.

Having rushed to create the future, and seeing it collapse, our conception of the future began to collapse as well.

To imagine the world of Minority Report, Stephen Spielberg assembled some of the great thinkers of the time and the result took hold on our vision of tomorrow. That, we all decided, is the future we are working towards, but boy is it far away. So let’s not worry about it. And that, I suspect, is a problem.

Personalised billboards that know your name and purchase habits became retargeted banners stalking us around the web. Gesture-based computing gloves and 3D projections lead to Kinect and Leap Motion and wearable technologies. (Doesn’t it look tiring, though? All that waving your arms around.)HUDs became augmented reality and Google Glass. Science fiction seemed to grind itself into the present.

The latency of culture is a function of the speed of information. Culture can’t change until new information has propagated and this used to take a long time.

When letters took weeks to arrive, that defined the threshold of assumed response. Now, thanks to Twitter, the latency of culture has decreased to almost nothing, as everyone shares news as soon as it might be true. The news media feels it needs to move in step, so it makes mistakes, as we were shown during the Boston bombings. Speed is as important as content, evidenced in the Oreo SuperBowl blackout tweet that went around the world.

Science fiction of the near future, from visionaries like William Gibson, collapsed into alternative versions of now, as we try to decode the increasingly weird present. No-one is laying out plans for how we are to move forward, and so we recycle the oldest idea in advertising – branded content.

Futurology is about mapping possible pathways. Without it, as Rushkoff suggests in Present Shock, planning gives way to ‘Apocalypto’, the hoping for an end of the ever decreasing circles of now, evinced by the endless, tiring, uses of the ‘death of’ narrative.

The death of the 30-second spot, of strategy, of traditional, of digital, or media. All are, basically, saying “We give up!”. We can’t find our way to the future and so, like all end-of-days nonsense, it means people give up on trying to find functional solutions for the problems.

Perhaps, then, we need to start thinking about the future again and start living up to the promises we made to ourselves and to the industry.

Marketing that was useful and beautiful, transparency of people and action that social media can deliver and distribute. Awesomeness created at the intersection of art, copy, Arduino and code,that can come about when we all learn to respect each other, department, silo, agency, client, and start working for the good of the industry and each other, as well as the bottom line.

The browser-based world wide web turned 20 this year. It’s finally ready.

Let’s start mapping out a future for our industry that doesn’t assume declining relevance and margins, but instead lets us help clients create value and make the world we live in, and the industry we work in, a nicer place.

Faris Yakob is the founder and principal of GeniusSteals. He is also the keynote speaker at the Innovation Afternoon on July 15, part of B&T’s MAD Week.

This article features in the current edition of B&T magazine, out now. 

Please login with linkedin to comment

Latest News

App Annie Announces New Managing Director For APAC
  • Technology

App Annie Announces New Managing Director For APAC

App market data and analytics company App Annie has announced the appointment of Cindy Deng as its new managing director for the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. Deng joins App Annie with more than 18 years’ experience in enterprise IT, digital advertising, data analytics, and data management. In her most recent role at Turn, she was responsible […]

New Editor For GQ Australia
  • Media

New Editor For GQ Australia

Unfortunately, it's no more Lowes or Roger David for Michael Christensen after being named fashion organ's top tamale.

QMS Goes West With ‘The Leeder’
  • Advertising
  • Media

QMS Goes West With ‘The Leeder’

QMS Media continues to expand its digital portfolio across Western Australia, switching on an iconic billboard in the heart of Perth. Following the launch of two new digital billboards in the major WA regional centres of Bunbury and Kalgoorlie in recent months, ‘The Leeder’ further delivers on QMS’ digital expansion strategy out west. Positioned at […]

PR Firm Text100 Wins NetApp Account For APAC
  • Marketing

PR Firm Text100 Wins NetApp Account For APAC

Global marketing communications agency Text100 has announced it been appointed by data management company NetApp to drive its brand transformation effort across the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. Following local competitive pitches conducted across the region, Text100 has been appointed as the APAC lead agency out of Singapore, and as the local agency of record in Australia, […]

MFA Awards 2017 Winners Revealed!
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Media

MFA Awards 2017 Winners Revealed!

B&T once again donned the tux, applied the Brut, and primed the liver for last night's MFA Awards in Sydney.

Concrete Playground Launches Voice-activated Nightlife Guide With Google Assistant
  • Media
  • Technology

Concrete Playground Launches Voice-activated Nightlife Guide With Google Assistant

Digital publisher Concrete Playground has unveiled a new app that helps Millennials plan their night out using voice control – the first of its kind to become available in Australia. Concrete Playground’s Guide to Tonight now works with Google Assistant, making it available on a range of Google devices and helping people to decide what […]

Digital Agency Inlight Secures Two Key Client Wins
  • Marketing
  • Technology

Digital Agency Inlight Secures Two Key Client Wins

Independent agency Inlight has announced it has won the digital account for Benetas, a not-for-profit aged care provider in Victoria. Following a competitive pitch process, Inlight was chosen to handle Benetas’ new website design, build and ongoing optimisation. Richard Barker, marketing manager at Benetas, said: “We wanted an agency that could be our true digital […]

AMI Awards 2017 Winners Revealed!
  • Marketing

AMI Awards 2017 Winners Revealed!

With almost 30 awards handed out, B&T predicts plenty of numb bottoms at last night's AMI Awards in Melbourne.

Clems Sydney CEO Andy Pontin Quits
  • Advertising

Clems Sydney CEO Andy Pontin Quits

Sure, B&T flashed the news of Andy Pontin quitting this morning. White lies aside, he's actually still got six months.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Adobe MAXes Most Creatives In A Room Record
  • Advertising
  • Media

Adobe MAXes Most Creatives In A Room Record

B&T's journo is reporting live from the annual Adobe Summit in Vegas. Although, "reporting" is somewhat of a stretch.

Opinion

by David Hovenden

David Hovenden
Digital Women’s Network & The Australian College Of Marketing Unveil Latest Short Courses
  • Marketing

Digital Women’s Network & The Australian College Of Marketing Unveil Latest Short Courses

The Australian College of Marketing is collaborating with the Digital Women’s Network to bring new short courses aimed to provide the latest skills across all aspects of the Digital landscape, kicking off in Melbourne and Sydney in 2018. Course content will focus around various topics related to the digital marketing landscape. All courses will run […]

Man working at office desk, looking at computer and scratching head
  • Technology

Where Are Digital & Tech Skills & Salaries Headed?

The rapid pace of technological change in the digital sector is seeing demand for those with the right skill sets outstrip availability, both locally and globally. The individuals who have kept their skills up to date are being well-rewarded financially. Now, Digital + Technology Collective’s expanded annual Skills and Salary Survey will put some numbers and context […]

Disney & ESPN Unify Sales & Partnerships Teams
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Media

Disney & ESPN Unify Sales & Partnerships Teams

Disney and ESPN have formed an even closer bond, announcing a new alignment of the two properties through their media sales and partnerships teams. Instead of entering through three doors, Disney ESPN Media Sales & Partnerships will give media buyers and marketers a refined, singular point of entry for Disney, ESPN Digital and Maker. Nik […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Sydney Start-up Muzaara Partners With Commission Factory To Turbocharge Digital Ad Spends
  • Advertising
  • Marketing

Sydney Start-up Muzaara Partners With Commission Factory To Turbocharge Digital Ad Spends

Sydney-based adtech start-up Muzaara has announced a new strategic partnership with performance marketing platform Commission Factory. Together, Muzaara and Commision Factory are providing SMEs with a secret weapon to skyrocket their online brand visibility and effectively manage and maximise their online advertising campaigns. This partnership will allow both online marketing companies and their impressive roster […]

Kellogg’s Creates AR Halloween Trick Or Treat Experience Via Shazam & Orchard
  • Campaigns
  • Marketing
  • Technology

Kellogg’s Creates AR Halloween Trick Or Treat Experience Via Shazam & Orchard

Breakfast cereal manufacturer Kellogg’s has joined forces with Shazam and digital agency Orchard to deliver a first-of-its-kind augmented reality (AR) Halloween Trick or Treat experience for families. The campaign, which leverages Shazam’s visual recognition platform and recently-launched AR platform, sees Kellogg’s pilot the replacement of physical gifts in cereal packs with a digital experience that […]