Whether or not it is mathematically accurate, most of us consider 2010 to be the beginning of a new decade. And with such a break, naturally, come speculations as to what the next ten years are going to be all about.
I'm no futurist, but as a writer I'm interested in how words change their meanings over time. And more importantly, how the big ideas behind them catch up with social evolution.
Here are 10 terms that I think will mean something very different during this decade:
Even people of my generation are amazed at younger people's lack of what we would call "shame". Just yesterday, I was reading about how a brother, whose sister narced him out for keeping beer in his room, got his revenge by posting her "hookup list" on Facebook and tagging all the guys' names.
Sibling rivalry may be as old as the hills, but when you see this list and the reactions to it, you can see that we're dealing with a generation that doesn't blush. They get mad, sure. They get embarrassed. But I don't get the impression that this girl really felt shame at having written this list in the first place.
Is that wrong? Not necessarily. In fact, when these kids are running the world, I can't imagine what kind of sex scandal could unseat a political leader, since everyone will have done everything imaginable and shared it by then.
Speaking of which, I'm getting old. Or at least, I should be. But one great thing about trailing the Baby Boomers is that they keep raising the bar. First 30 was the new 20. Then 40 was the new 30. 50 the new 40. 60 the new 50. Etc.
It's gotten to the point where I'm not really that concerned about turning 40 this year. As older friends and relatives have shown me, I never really need to grow old.
I'd like to thank you, my dedicated reader, for being here. But where is "here"? I'm writing this in my office, and you could literally be anywhere in the world. This is nothing new, since telecommunication has always made some of this possible, but the ease and richness of it make us so much more present in each other's lives than ever before.
Online meetings, online games, online parties... people are getting together in places that don't actually exist. So at what point will we need a new word for "here" that means "no, like actually in the flesh (and actually paying attention rather than Blackberrying)".
I think the concept of "Now" has also changed, and will continue to do so, in certain contexts. When I write an e-mail to an friend, and I ask "what are you doing now?" I might mean this year, or even since 1989. But when I see them on Facebook or Twitter, I see that they're trying to clean cat barf out of their carpet.
The immediacy in personal communication is risible, but in business it's downright infuriating. But I've already covered that one in another post.
Originally, a brand was an attempt to give human attributes to a company or product. Now it's gone full circle, and corporate branding techniques are being applied to people.
Way back in 2007, Fast Company said "Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You."
So if a brand is a person, and a person is a brand, then... ?
Oh, forget it. My head hurts.
Are we having a conversation right now? Not really. As far as I know I'm just talking at you (or nobody, for that matter). But we may get into one in the comments thread below.
What's interesting about online ideas exchange isn't just that we can have a little Twitter flamewar in almost real time — it's also that a conversation can play out over hours, days, or even weeks on a thread. And I can have several at a time without being rude.
I've actually caught myself recently stating that I had "had a conversation" with someone at over something important, when in fact we had just messaged each other a few times. Maybe that seems normal to you, but I'm still getting used to it.
I was at a social media seminar last year where one participant raised concern about the idea of generating so much content for free: "How do I retain ownership of it, if it's out there for everyone to use as they see fit?"
The idea of ownership is changing — from collaborative authorship on Wikis, to hilarious copyright violations on YouTube.
This obviously bothers some owners of more valuable intellectual capital like U2's Bono, who actually went on record saying that ISPs should use Chinese-style policing of the Internet to stop illegal music sharing.
To some people, this might seem to make sense. But it goes against the ideals of Internet culture, and also seems petty coming from a millionaire rock star.
I'm not saying artists shouldn't have the right to protect, and profit from, their own work. I just don't know how they'll manage in a remixing, sharing online world.
This is more one I'd like to see change, rather than one that necessarily will. But the idea is that as people form more and varied connections with other people, they will stop being such all-or-nothing team players.
What I mean by that is that people will stop labelling themselves "liberal" or "conservative" or whatever, but will instead form loyal connections to the individual people and ideas that suit them best, while at the same time always be ready to change alliances if a person or thing lets them down. Think "cat loyalty" rather than "dog loyalty". I actually think that would make for a smarter, better world.
This is another of those old-school words that often gets misapplied in marketing and life. But I think you will see a new sort of responsibility continue to emerge in the next few years, where people can no longer feign ignorance about the impacts of their behaviours, and companies are answerable for their claims, practices, and supply chains.
At least I hope so.
We've never really had ad agencies here in Ottawa. Because of the size of the market and the nature of the client base, most of us have evolved from design shops to a more integrated and strategic offering.
There have been times when I regretted not moving to a bigger market with "real" ad agencies, but not anymore. While I'm not ready to proclaim the post-advertising era quite yet, the long death of traditional mainstream media is brutalizing the old media commission model. At the same time, old ways of communicating are eroding as consumers just get their best tips from their extended network.
One of the great things about being at Acart is that we're constantly reinventing ourselves. Because we're always changing, we don't have to fear change.
So what will the Ad Agency of 2020 look like? Tune in for my next installment.