Predictions for the next 10 years

2020 predictions vision of the home video media center family roomBack in 1999 I went to a conference at the Field Museum in Chicago called The Next 20 Years (sponsored by ZDNet, I still have the button that says Believe in Technology).

Now that we’re rolling over the odometer to 2010 I can honestly say that none of the predictions about string theory have come true.

It was an interesting idea though, to think about what is possible now and in the future and speculate in ways that may inspire people to do more, make things better and improve life.

I have been thinking a lot about this decade ending in the last few weeks and aside from an obvious comment about how blindingly fast it went by, I’m skipping the recap and these are some thoughts for the next ten to twenty years.

Disclaimer: These are just my ideas as one person, who analyzes things for a living, and I don’t have a lot of data to prove any of it. Take it with a grain of salt or as entertainment only.

1. Photo Recognition will be big. And I am not talking about face recognition software. But with smartphones we mostly have decent cameras at our disposal that are connected to the internet 24/7. I have been thinking I’d like to be able to redeem the coke-points my husband collects by snapping a picture of the cap rather than entering the number on a form online (boring and slow). This is the exact stuff that QR code readers are used for that work for UPS tracking and a whole bunch of other applications. Expect them to be used as the new coupons, contests, offline-online gaming and a whole bunch of other stuff. Then maybe by the time all that is common place facial recognition of images will be working online.

2. You will probably work in an industry that does not exist yet. Continuing education is a must. I say this because my life is an example. I work in Online Marketing and data tracking for ad agencies and this didn’t exist as a job or a technology available to most companies in 1999. I have to make sure I spend time learning on the job and off the job each year because things change a lot. This does not make having a family easy and we have no idea if we will do that as a result, but it means that you have to be curious about new stuff and be willing to investigate it and you may end up the local expert when you’re the only one with that knowledge. And learn a lot of math.

3. Taxes will go up. All this BS about lowering taxes to stimulate business and rich people spending will go away since we can’t fund the programs required, can’t borrow any more as a government and we would still have the lowest taxes for those rich people to pay when compared to other developed economies. Interest rates and inflation may follow, and of course oil prices crunching a lot of people out of the middle class. Someone will finally do the math proving that investment in hiring new people at a company and creating jobs is inversely related to lowering taxes on the rich and everyone else.

4. There will be a whole new batch of media mavens that we listen to and we will like them because they are curators not experts. No one person will be able to create enough content or be syndicated to as many channels, mediums and messages as would be possible in this fragmented media world. The people you will look to for advice are blogging now, looking at thousands of sources of information, knowing how to process it, evaluate what is good-bad-meaningless and just filter down to the good stuff. We need people like this because the big media push to produce new stuff 24/7/365 is too much for one person to go through and we all still have jobs/families/houses to attend to. And not everyone wants to spend every day plugged into a screen reading constantly. We just want those wow, aha moments. Eventually maybe this 1000 cable channels, commercials every 10 minutes, 100 blog posts a day, constant content model will streamline due to lack of popularity of most of it (no ROI) but as there is more digital space available someone will put something on it, with no guarantee of quality because people seem to randomly stumble upon things still and listen/watch/interact with amusement/laziness/procrastination of their day job. 

5. Expect more digital sensors everywhere. And this could mean in our clothing, in our fridges, on the roads, in our homes. There is a lot of bandwidth for transmitting data and ways are improving for processing data and analyzing it (without human intervention, or programming needed). I foresee more real-time data on traffic and alternate routes in my car guided by my voice requests (like Knight Rider’s Kit?). I foresee clothing measuring weight and texting me that I shouldn’t eat any more calories today. I foresee my fridge telling me the milk has gone bad again and there is a cracked egg leaking all over it. We may spend all day responding to automated messages. These may be an upgrade fee kind of thing but I think at some point the regular cost will include it because the data will be so valuable and targetable for marketers. The recent privacy discussions prove that people are becoming more aware of ad tracking as well as digital capabilities and the younger generations don’t want to go back to a time without it. But we do need better security options for this to work or an opt in policy for managing what companies know and how we want to get/share/target this info.

6. We’re going to get a whole lot more competition from China, South America and Africa for jobs. Companies are going there for operations now and not just to supply their own regions with goods and services. All the Bill & Melinda Gates (plus Oprah, Warren Buffet & That Facebook guy too) funding health/education programs in Africa will create a continent of healthy people who have jobs that used to be here related to their natural resources and possibly other areas as well. China will continue to be a leader in growth and the US needs to define itself. I always wonder why there is such an emphasis on making sure all the other countries have the help they need to solve their problems by these foundations and not the ones with people starving/not getting educated or employed in the USA. Also Immigration, population growth and birth rates in the US will all drop by 2020. (based on what I saw from the census in 2010)

7. The market will continue to be tumultuous. Up, down, sideways. It isn’t connected to real people or the economy as we know it anymore. We’re not sure how to gauge it or if it will make any positive growth in 10 years. With higher interest rates in 2012-2013 CDs may be the hot investment again.

That is it for now, but I may have more ideas later. One thing is for sure, let’s get out there and party like it’s 1999.

rolling over the odometer 1999 2000 2010 100000 miles

TopGear USA Version 2 with NBC BBC Partnership

According to this news article NBC has contracted with the BBC to produce a USA version of TopGear for network free tv. No estimates on when it would launch but I would guess Fall of 2008. It is sad though that I think they may miss the mark. A lot of funny TopGear stuff is not suitable for US TV let alone would pass the network censors.

Anyway, I did get some hope when I suggested a few months ago that TopGear should hold open auditions for the 3 presenter spots when launching a new show in a new country because you can more accurately find talent that is in touch with what is funny and new with cars. Plus its a huge PR event to get the public involved.

Anyway the TopGear Australian franchise took my advice (or thought of it too) and has open auditions scheduled. Go Aussies! Bring us some Holden goodness.

Another Word of advice: for an unscripted but not a reality show, you need people with a background in Improv and Cars. Or a smart ass who knows cars, or an improv funny guy who knows nothing about cars and gets to be the new captain slow. And these presenters have to have strong opinions about cars for it to clash in a funny way. Who knows. But improv training and quick wit is a big part of the equation. Exploiting your lack of knowledge for comedy can be just as funny as knowing a lot.

So, what I want to know is where do I sign up? You could very easily use a girl in the mix right?

The other part of the successful mix is not chopping it into small pieces with commercials every 5 minutes and not ruining it with dumb stunts like fear factor. I hate fear factor but love TopGear. If you put anything like FF on TG I will hunt you down and hang you by your toenails. It’s supposed to be about humor in car culture and in every day life. Heck, get the Jalopnik guys. They know the cult of cars as good as anyone I know.

My brother just replied to my email I sent alerting him to this and suggested that Jay Leno or Tim Allen host but I really think they need presenters who are unknown and from improv. Jay Leno and Tim Allen are great funny car guys, but they are too attached to other brands and images. And they aren’t a Jeremy Clarkson. Plus how are you going to get through traffic on the 405 with filming big stars anyway? Would either of those guys put on a wet suit and try to windsurf in freezing cold water? And be ok with failing miserably in freezing cold water? You also need unknown people so you don’t attract too much attenton filming in the city as these challenges are happening.

On a side note about the show content, they need to visit all the racing and car history places along the way going cross country as they film different challenges. (think INDY) They go across entire countries in a day on UK TopGear but in the US it would be states instead. At least you don’t need a passport. And we need an American cousin Stig that actually fits in the car this time. Not all Americans are that fat.

Anyway, my lack of time for this post is probably evident in it’s lack of  structure, grammar and spelling, but you get the point: NBC/BBC: Don’t FORK this up!

And my brother just emailed again saying he still wants Tim Allen to host with 2 unknown but funny/smart side kicks. Ok, we can compromise on that, but no denim shirts and grunting this time ok? That’s so 1990’s. Ugh. 

Another idea; Why not Ze Frank? he singlehandedly entertained us on the internet for a year and might be perfect for this kind of non scripted show. Check out the show and his TED talk from a few years ago if you have a minute.  I have been wondering what he has been up to and missing his show anyway. Maybe this would be a good opportunity for him. Hey Studio people, give Ze a call!

 Update: The first TopGear USA NBC host has been chosen: Adam Corola.

Holiday Movie Guide 2007 – Top Movies to see this Christmas

I have been looking at the New Movies being released in the next month and it looks like there will be a lot to see over the christmas holiday break. A lot of big blockbuster movies will be out and hopefully everyone will have more free time around the holidays to go out and see them at the theaters. (or at least kids and teenagers will, adults may still be working) Some of the movies I think look good are:

1. Sweeny Todd (the demon barber of fleet street)- This is an adaptation with Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter from a musical. So expect singing, but also expect something unique and dark that only Johnny Depp and Tim Burton could bring you. I wouldn’t expect gore here, but I would expect the odd take on the world that seems to be their specialty and expect some humor too.

2. I Am Ledgend– People are excited about seeing Will Smith in a movie again since this is supposed to be a movie adapted from a graphic novel. That seems to be the golden ticket with the teens and 20’s people of today. Nothing is hotter underground than the comic culture except maybe zombies and vampires and this has those too. It’s scifi genre with a killer virus. Scifi is a genre that Will Smith does well so maybe this will be a sneak attack because people have been kind of bored with Will Smith lately. But I am not so sure about those vampires. I think that’s where this one falls off the edge of believability.

3. Kite Runner – a movie that is small and independent and features cultural differences between the west and the middle east. I think this is a contemporary and relevant story right now and people appreciate the truth in stories that entertain and educate at the same time. We can all relate here.

My New Favorite TV Show: Wired Science on PBS

I was home for once last night and ran across the new PBS show WIRED Science on channel 11 in Chicago. I liked it a lot. The presenters seem a little young and a little rushed but otherwise its really very informative and entertaining at the same time. Its the kind of gig I would like as a TV presenter if you could choose your dream job. (if TopGear hosting wasn’t available in the  dream job drop down menu) They were featuring several places that were in the magazine in past months. My subscription ran out and I didn’t renew it because I rarely have time to read, so it is great that a TV show has popped up instead. Just in time. They went to a meteorite searching guy’s field and dug up a real meteorite (rather than a meteorong, say that out loud…) There was also a very very cool guy growing genetic replica organs in a lab and using actual HP printer cartridges to print them out with cells. (I am so not kidding, do you know how F-ing amazing that is???? Both for the new organs and the HP printer cartridges) They also talked to a theoretical physicist and went into a deep tunnel to see how neutrinos are studied. I am still not sure what a neutrino is, because my cat was meowing the whole time and I was trying to reason with him. Don’t ever try to reason with a cat, they always win. Anyway, I do know what the Neutrino Project is. It’s a live improv show about making an movie by put on by Fuzzy Gerdes and the cast. They film edit and show a real movie in every show. Maybe Wired Science should cover that too? Anyway the show is on Wednesday nights on Chanel 11 PBS in Chicago at 8pm cst.

The New Radiohead Album

I am listening to the new Radiohead album courtesy of a friend who downloaded it for free ala the new pay as you see fit system and apparently share as you see fit system. It is interesting that they have used the record companies to market them to the point where they are household names and have an awareness level that is really high.  (thanks guys!) And now have struck out on their own because record companies keep way too much of the profits for themselves when the artists sell well. (despite their flawed distribution system)

My friend who downloaded this didn’t think it was too great, he said it sounds exactly like every other Radiohead album and is kinda not evolving anymore. I am not a person who keeps up with music much so I don’t have any past history with listening to Radiohead and I feel like it has Toyota commercial written all over it. Maybe it’s because it’s somewhat repetitive of past albums and I may have heard the sound on the TV or something, but I feel a lot of Bono in the songs and a lot of Honda and Toyota commercials. It’s that we want to be hip sound of a Yuppie aging and doing something safe.

Maybe that is how they will make their money on this album? Through corporate sponsors getting rights to use their music in ads. Maybe they should just write for ad agencies. I don’t know. I just would b curious if they would list the average sale amount from the album on their site. I am curious if it is higher than 0.99? It has nothing to do with quality of the music, it’s that people can’t afford everything and want everything at the same time so they want everything as cheap as possible these days. There is just too much out there to consume.

Jeremy Clarkson Chews pipe and burns mouth Season 10 Ep 2

Ok, so this week’s TopGear was funnier than last week’s season premier show. The Audi R8 was nice, but alas I won’t be in the market for a super-car for at least several lifetimes, so it was just car porn. This week the funniest moments in no particular order were:

1. James Smoking the pipe as if he was at home.

2. Jeremy burning his mouth on his Porsche pipe.

3. Jeremy scraping the underside of a viaduct with the fishing poles sticking out of his truck.

4. The foam on fire in all 3 amphibious vehicles on their way to Dover.

5. Jeremy trying to push James’ Triumph Herald off the dock when they arrive.

We were cackling so loud at this show that the relatives and guests visiting my parent’s house had to come in and watch the end with us. We had 11 people in front of the TV watching these 3 guys mucking about in the English Channel. Most of them had never seen it before, and are going to go look it up on BBC America now.  You just can’t deny the lovability of this show.  All my brother’s friends are obsessed and their girlfriends are obsessed and my dad’s coworkers are obsessed too. I have one or two coworkers that are into it, but not in this office. Chicagoans are somewhat hard to impress. TG would only show up here if they would be doin g some tour of America’s fattiest food or something.

Anyway, I leave you with the best comment from last week’s show while driving through the Swiss Alps: ” The Hills are Alive with the sound of Horsepower” Sing along with us…

Kodak drops Olympic Sponsorship After Beijing 2008

beijing olympics 2008The 2008 Beijing Olympics are less than a year away. NBC is shaking in their boots though because so many advertisers are baling out right after and have probably reduced their advertising and commercial media spend on this upcoming 2008 Olympic Games. A few things seem to have changed with the Olympics over the past 10-15 years. They used to be the talk of the town and what everyone was watching each night on television for 2 weeks. Now we are not so sure where the Olympics fall in popularity in the U.S. Today they announced that Kodak along with GM and probably a few more United States companies that aren’t as popular, won’t be advertising in the Olympics after the Bejing 2008 Games. Here are several reasons why I think this evolutionary media and company changeover is happening:

1. The Olympic Mystique is waning. In a world of video games, social networking and texting these big deal once every 4 year Games that an athlete works their entire life for somehow seem disconnected. To work for that long on something and not get paid is somehow against our current consumer culture’s ideals. If you work that long you should surely get a Million dollar contract and a promotional deal with Nike right? The “for the love of the sport and glory of winning to bring peace to the world” idea isn’t really that popular with today’s youth or yuppies. They believe in sell to your neighbor, network with your friends and only work towards one goal: Money. So the Olympics are just not relevant anymore and somehow boring.

2. The evening entertainment options for people now are fragmented and overwhelming. Before you could watch TV (5 channels) or go out to dinner and a movie, listen to the radio, read a book or talk on the phone. An example of a simple 1980’s night. Now in 2007 you could do all those things plus, go online, email, text, IM, blog, twitter, MySpace/Facebook, watch dvds, DVR, Tivo, download something to watch illegally, listen to satellite radio, NPR, Google, read and comment on online news, watch cable’s any number of billions of channels, talk on the cell phone, listen to CDs, your iPod, choose new music on Itunes, go to a virtual world like second life or WoW, play video games on your TV or online, or possibly several of these combined. You can see why kids have such trouble sitting down and studying with a book these days. You can also see why the 1980’s seemed quaint and the 1950’s seemed unthinkable. People have so much selection to choose from, they just switch entertainment as soon as they get bored and which ever gets the excitement going wins. The Olympics haven’t really been able to capture the excitement for a while now.

3. The face of American Business is changing. Companies that manufacture and produce actual products in America are dying. That is just the way it is. Our Japanese competitors were formidable in the 1980’s and Our Chinese competitors in the 90’s and 00’s are killing us softly. Notice that Bank of America will be Advertising in the Olympics and GM and Kodak won’t. No American company can afford to manufacture anything in America anymore and be a world power. We’ve gotten too rich and demanding as employees (especially executives), and it’s too expensive to manufacture here. If a company transfers production to Chinese factories (for cheaper labor to be competitive) by default they teach the Chinese companies how to do their work and run the business. And then they Chinese have been known to start their own company and take over. There is a conscious effort by the Chinese to take US knowledge to build businesses in China and bring greatness and world economic power back to China like it used to have centuries ago. (from the book One Billion Customers) Hosting the Beijing Olympics is part of that Grand Plan to showcase how modern and westernized they are now while they win all the medals. The U.S. on the other hand seems to not really plan for the future, and doesn’t see that we are being put out of business. So, companies like Kodak and GM can’t advertise in the Olympics because they can’t afford to anymore, they are shrinking companies that are being beat out of the market at every turn. It is sad that we will all be driving Japanese and Chinese cars and using Chinese and Japanese cameras made in Singapore, Nepal and Malaysia soon and we won’t have any jobs here because we don’t produce anything. Manufacturing is power and we have given that up for big profits short term manufacturing in China and long term business loss and job loss here in America. The executives and board members that have decided that for this country should be put in Jail. The damage they have done to the U.S. Economy for their own personal gain is disgusting.