December 30, 2011

New ways of seeing

Filed under: Futures,Innovation — by xrematon @ 10:02 pm
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It’s a time of year when things are sometimes rather magical and all very distracting. Well, that’s my excuse for this blog post about an initiative which isn’t very closely associated to marketing trends or consumer insight. No, it’s about a new way of recording and seeing images which can make us feel one moment like a giant looking over the world from a far and then another, let us quickly zoom in to spy what an insect might.

How can you see this? Because it’s a Gigapan. As described on the site

Gigapans are gigapixel panoramas, digital images with billions of pixels. GigaPan EPIC robotic mounts empower cameras to take hundreds, even thousands of photos, which are combined to create one highly detailed image with amazing depth and clarity.

It’s worth taking a look at some of the examples that have been created. There are some which remind me a bit of how people first respond to being on TV – ‘Hey, look it’s me. I’m here!’  To be fair, this is pretty cool way to tag oneself in a photo. Beats blurry shots loaded up on facebook.

There are others which make good use of the medium – I’m thinking of those of stained glass windows. Normally you stare up at them, craning your neck, hoping to see the painstakingly-created beauty. Now you can – and it is rather wonderful.

However, my favourite is a bit more frivolous. It’s an image of Saint Paul’s cathedral in which people are hiding and holding up placards which show the final sentence of a recent Stephen King novel.  I think I like as it reminds me of the Mike Wilks Ultimate Alphabet Book which I used to spend hours pouring over as a child.

Must go and find – more distractions!

December 15, 2011

Will death no longer silence us in the future?

Filed under: Consumer Trends,Futures,Innovation — by xrematon @ 9:56 am
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This might appear rather unseasonal given that Christmas is about the celebrating a very special birth, but I am pondering the idea of death – in particular what it means now the virtual world is so important to us.

These somewhat macabre thoughts were triggered by having read an interesting piece from The Wall blog (well worth a read). It explores the idea of what happens to your facebook profile when you die – apparently three facebook users die every minute. There is a link to a fascinating TED talk by  Adam Ostrow where he takes these ideas further. He first highlights some of the services that now exist which allow you to create online tributes to be posted by loving friends and family after you snuff it (not sure I would be up for creating such a kind of shrine). What is more interesting is the idea that in the future there could also be services which would allow you to ‘live on’. They would look at all of the digital content you created in your lifetime – your tweets, blog posts, status updates etc – analyse it and then work out what you would be likely to do next. There are already services that post tweets in your personal style.

As Ostrow observes, it raises interesting questions about immortality. To me, it also makes me think about whether what goes online truly represents who we are. Perhaps this is a generational thing – I have a very limited presence on facebook and my tweets are pretty dull. But for those whose social lives are seamlessly organised and experienced on and offline, it kind of makes sense.

And to be honest, thinking about the analogue equivalent – photo albums – before the advent of carefree digital snapping, photos were often staged and unnatural. None of us can resist a bit of posing, regardless of the medium.

December 8, 2011

Materalism still lives?

Filed under: Consumer Trends,Marketing — by xrematon @ 11:20 am
Tags: , , , ,

Compare and contrast the following:

I already have a beautiful wife, a hilarious son, two hondas and a decent house. What else does a man need?

One of the most outrageous incidents of the day was in the Los Angeles area, where up to 20 people were injured after a woman at a Walmart used pepper spray to get an edge on other shoppers in a rush for Xbox game consoles.

The reason I wanted to highlight these was that I was struck by a statement in a piece which mentioned the concept of a post-consumer generation. It got me thinking – I wasn’t sure I agreed.

In reading about the Khan Academy (an online educational resource started by an ex-fund manager), I came across the first statement, which was the founder’s explanation as to why he didn’t try to make the Academy into a big business venture. His words do seem to echo the sentiment of someone looking for more from life than an ever expanding pile of ‘stuff’.

However, a couple of days later, I was reading about Black Friday and events described in the second paragraph. And again, in the UK, something comparable from an interim report on the August riots which suggested that

the 13,000 to 15,000 estimated rioters who took part in £500m worth of looting and destruction were not motivated by coalition cuts or politics, but by the belief – only belatedly corrected by the 4,000 arrests so far – that they could get away with stealing supposedly high-status goods on an industrial scale.

That sounds more like people who still very much want ‘stuff’.

There are some simple factors at play. The current economic environment has meant people cannot afford to buy all they want. Tellingly, agreement with the statement ‘I’ve got all the material possessions I need’ has dropped from 58% in 2008 to 50% in 2010 amongst US consumers in the Global Monitor Survey from The Futures Company.

However, I don’t think that means companies should go all out on appealing to our still live acquisitive instincts. In the UK, the Littlewoods Xmas advert which shows a nativity play with children rapping and singing about their presents bought by their mums, didn’t go down very well. Amongst some of the comments bouncing around on mumsnet were the following:

Encourages debt fuelled consumerism (easy payments)
Could pressurise people out of guilt to spend more than they can afford

Better to do a John Lewis and have an ad which doesn’t really show any ‘stuff’ and makes us cry!

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