Justice Mitchell's 2012 Predictions: Part One

The Future is Now! (I’m not saying it’s a great headline – but I needed to have something there or it makes me a little nuts ;)

Anyone who ever sat down over a cup of coffee or bottle of wine with me knows I can wax philosophical over design and technology trends until your ears bleed. I LIVE for this shit, people!

I’ve been grinding on a number of different items lately, and it’s time to put it all out there. I based some of these on my own gut feelings. I cited and referenced others, then supplemented with my own take on how "it" will affect us. What you read here is my own interpretation. I’m not engaging in product placement or service promotion, and my current employers influence none of this.

Bottom line: Yours truly is NOT paid for anything outlined here. Although … if your product is mentioned and you feel compelled to hook up a brotha with some expensive schwag … that would be pretty sweet.

Interactive Television:

Every man and woman who is passionate about technology and gadgets is waiting with bated breath for the Apple TV or the soon to be coveted iTV. No, we’re not talking simply about the box – but the true dawn of interactive television. And there's a lot to talk about.

  • Webisodes get recognition: Once upon a time, shitty cell-phone movies were acceptable forms of “user generated content.” Therefore they were the norm when it came to video on the Web. But with the rise of web-based original programs like "The Guild", we now see high-quality programming, storytelling and video production online. And better yet, there is very little tethering to a cable channel or traditional network.
  • Land-grab for online producers: The explosive growth of webisodic content will lead to a high demand for early adopters who have projects in the pipeline. Think of it like indie film making, but with an audience that is about to DEMAND content.

Sorry, viral videos, but your days of fail-blogs, snippets of strippers falling off poles, and cats playing midi keyboards will come to a screeching halt within three years. It's not to say you won't have a place on the Web. It’s just that the heyday is over.

  • Growth of social TV Metrics: As your webisodic garden grows, so will the methods of tracking who is watching what, what's cool and trending, and what's incubating. Applications like GetGlue - GetGlue ,GoMiso and Yap will draw more users to this unknown content. Just like everything else social, influencers will set the standard. If you see someone you trust watching a new online series, chances are you’ll check it out. Watch for acquisitions of these companies in 2012 by the likes Google and Facebook as the big players try to establish dominance. Additionally: watch as show call on these apps to collect data about the shows storyline and character interest and make content changes that serve the audience behaviours.
  • HD will be the baseline by 2013: Please tell me this isn’t keeping you up at night. Surely everyone is aware that high-def is rapidly becoming the standard. With most satellite and cable providers now offering at least 100 HD channels http://www.tvpredictions.com/charter110211.htm, I think it's safe to say that HD is not simply here to stay – but it is here to be.

A lot of people asked if 3D would be on my list. It's not. I don't know why except that it smells of Betamax.

  • Micro-markets: Just like there is a magazine for every interest, we’ll soon see similar granularity in video. Micro-markets will thrive in the new interactive television economy because there are so many subjects for which people are willing to create content. I always use Cat Fancy as the barometer here. And while I understand that is a relatively LARGE niche, I hasten to add that if you look at Cat Fancy, there's enough subset content available to easily satisfy the weekly demand from any crazy old porcelain-clown-figurine hoarder.

Print designers embrace online: 

So what about the gobs of printed magazines out there on all various subjects? Yes, you're right. And if you think those few thousand titles will continue in their current form long enough to put food on your family’s dinner table until you retire, than I must be wrong. 

I know I sound jaded, but if it's not clear that the industry we depend on for a living is migrating more and more of their budgets to online, then maybe you’re not as connected as you should be. I still get people I respect trying to convince me there's time to make a career out of print design! I say that's a sad, unrealistic view. Your time and talent would be better suited to industrial or package design if that’s the case.

Social graph is the new Rolodex:

If you are surprised to learn that the folks with large social graphs aren’t “worth” any more than those with a minor following, then I might not be the person you should be reading. Seth Godin says that anyone with more than a 1,000 "true fans" lacks the ability to truly nurture and engage that group – I agree. That said. I think you can have a core of 1,000 "F3" (friends, fans and followers) even with a numerical following of 100,000. The fact is that no matter how many people you connect to, there's only a tiny fraction that you will truly engage at any given time.

Deal-making becomes more profiled, dynamic and digital-haggling™ begins:

Old Companies are new again! I'm proud of brands like the Yellow Pages for taking advantage of fertile markets like coupons and deals. You can indeed teach old dogs new tricks. And savvy analysis of your old business practices might render new-world market-share should you take the time to make it fit.

With brands like the Yellow Pages looking at local business with this level of granularity, you will find more businesses putting this kind of leverage into their plans in 2012.

Watch as more and more apps use proximity-based marketing to serve content according to your profile. Think of walking through downtown while your preferred brand competes for business in real time based on wherever you happen to be walking, sitting or sipping your Café Mocha Grande. Of course Foursquare, Yelp and GoWalla (recently purchased my Facebook, I might add) do this already. But it’s still clunky and mired in a sea of people creating cubicles and port-o-toilets as check-in points. Not that I’VE ever checked in at a place like that, but I've heard that SOME people do it.

Lastly, I believe it won’t be long before we digitally-haggle for proximity business in real time. I walk by Old Navy … they push me an offer for $30 micro-fleece (mainly because I like saying that) … my pre-defined counter-bid tells them I’ll pull over and purchase that happenin’ new hoodie right now if they agree to a 25 percent discount. Watch as dynamic digital negotiations take place before I even step out of my car and walk into the welcoming cloud of Cinnabon fumes. 

Business cut costs on office space to hire more virtual staffers:

The simple fact is this – the more technology allows us to work in a cohesive, mutually beneficial way without being in the same place, the faster we can drop the needless expense of a brick-and-mortar location. This goes for not only B2B, but B2C as well. Watch as businesses shutter more physical stores to eliminate needless location-based expenditures, and then divert those funds to streamline the online process.

Aggregators on the rise:

I talk about this all the time, but the more our social graphs grow, the more we will require robust, unified aggregators to pool, monitor and distribute engagement. I see this in many forms:

  • Social dashboards: Websites and tools that allow you to toggle through your social graph. They provide a way to sort, dynamically flag for white- and black-lists,  and assign keyword alerts against your connections. For larger customer-service based professionals, these tools will need to be real-time, simple to use and built for the mobile business person.
  • Hyper-collective, real-time metrics: Within the social dashboard, or as a stand-alone service, will be more and more Radian6-like apps to provide social-media metrics, alerts and real-time sentiment monitoring. These tools will be as critical as e-mail to some professionals. And because of that, services offering these features will be more cost-effective and revolutionary with each release. 

More robots in our lives:

Most of you know me as the loony conspiracy theorist who believes an inevitable EMP attack will wipe out many of the unprepared residents of the First World, followed up by a couple good doses of a man-made flu virus to kill to everyone else. Then, of course, come the zombies and robots. The good news is that at least in the interim, robots might have an excellent place in our lives until they become self-aware and use the human race as a captive energy source for the matrix.

Trust me. I’m a BLAST at cocktail parties!

Today’s robots, however, are not what you think of when someone drops the word. A robot is a mechanical or virtual intelligent agent that can perform tasks automatically or with guidance, typically by remote control, says The Wiki. It does not have to walk on two legs, shoot lasers or assist star fighters in destroying things like the "Death Star.” Although those applications might come in handy when my neighbor refuses to clean up after his dog drops S-bombs on my lawn.

Look at products like The Nest, a learning thermostat. With increasing frequency, our applications, computers and products will take on more sentient-like abilities in order to better serve us. We will expect this level of intelligent design in the next decade. The more we use certain tools, the more they should simply "know" how they will be used. Cloud computing will become the backbone for connecting and collectively teaching applications how to be best used.

Worry not fair maidens and techno-lads there's more to come! Stay tuned and give me your thoughts on 2012!