2009 was the year of breakthrough technology-inspired hits like Twitter and Facebook that allowed individuals from all walks of life to communicate, share and publish to the world. News and updates ricocheted from one person to another or an entire nation or country in a matter of seconds. I myself was caught up in a situation where I was at the scene of a murder-suicide in the Ft. Lewis PX and once I knew I was safe, I Tweeted about it (albeit I could hardly type from the massive flow of adrenalin coursing through my body). Within minutes, a flurry of Tweets came back to me asking of my safety. Retweets ensued. Then the media jumped in – calls from CNN, NBC, The Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune and more. They had all seen the Twitter conversation and wanted to get first-hand knowledge of what occurred at the scene.
It may be odd to say, but I confess it did make me feel better to receive messages of assurance from people I didn’t know. And while the outlets for social media are becoming more a channel for marketing and pyramid schemes, there remains the ability to connect to humankind in meaningful ways that aren’t anchored in “get rich quick” or “work from home and make $1500 a day” pitches.
Power to the people
So, as for my predictions for 2010… I think there’s something to be said about the massive popularity of the Wedding Dance video and the pure, authentic joy that was palpable when we watched it. The vulnerability of Susan Boyle as she shyly walked on stage and then belted out with the voice of an angel. We’ve been living in hard times, burdened by joblessness, recession, foreclosures, and furloughs. We are reminded of our failures and flaws. And at the same time, we see how sometimes unadulterated greed and ambition actually nets monetary riches (but we always feel better when the “bad guy” gets nabbed!). When we see people dancing with love and spirit, or we see the underdog succeed, we cheer and smile. 2010 will help us cheer and smile even more as we return back to the basics of human contact and passionate pursuits (art, food, music), enabled and empowered by technology.
Draw your own conclusions
Everyone is an artist. You might not agree, but it’s probably because your teacher in second grade didn’t confirm your doodles were original, inspired art forms and they likely didn’t encourage you to continue doodling – everywhere and anywhere (okay, there was probably some merit to that admonition). Now, while we’re not all artists at the level of Picasso or Warhol, there are many who have made fame and fortunes in galleries. And with the popularity of websites like Etsy, ArtistaDay, TalentHouse and others, amateur and semi-pro artists have a wider forum to share and sell their creations – with or without gallery representation. With more to express, more people will find different forms of art as outlets, leading to more communities of painters, poets, sculptors and sketchers. There are even fantastic applications like Brushes on the iPhone that allows anyone to finger-paint a masterpiece, even while stuck in the middle of a packed bus.
Less is more
Twitter became a game of collecting followers. Best illustrated by Ashton Kutcher’s campaign to get 1M followers, we secretly smiled whenever we got another 5 in one day. We had fun exchanges with strangers who sometimes even became either virtual or real-life friends. And now that many of us have a few followers, we’re looking for the connection with these folks. Can I talk to them about my interest in growing kabocha squash? Or will that automatically result in 200 less followers? I know there’s a wealth of information out there in the group of Twitterers, but I don’t always want to spam the group with myNike+ running results and likewise don’t want to hear about somebody’s Mafia Wars score every 5 minutes either. How do we cultivate relationships online and bring these masses into more bite-sized morsels to get greater satisfaction? I don’t know how it will be achieved, but I’m sure somebody is on it.
Play it again, Sam
In addition to services like Last.FM, Rhapsody, MOG, Napster, Pandora and more, 2010 will finally see the US launch of Spotify, as well as the global launch of Rdio from the founders of Skype. Music has always been a way for people to connect – sharing tastes and preferences for artists, genres, and hits. It illuminates a side of one’s personality that isn’t evident on first glance. Are you a progressive house fan? A rocker? Country, blues or jazz aficionado? The questions on how to make cloud-based music work (i.e. profitable) for all constituents involved is a complicated matter, but consumers are ready to take tunes on the go – and not just the tunes they’ve purchased on the walled garden of iTunes.
One more time, with feeling
My general prediction for 2010 is a celebration of creativity. Technologies that enable us to consume, create, and connect will surpass those that allow us to simply collect.
2010 will be the year of: Creativity. Connection. Authenticity. Trust. Sharing.