Guardian’s Digital Predictions for 25 Years

by Chelsea Blacker on 15/11/2011

I read this Guardian article of predictions for the next 25 years over the weekend, and found a few quotes interesting. It’s 1am, and I can’t be bothered to reflect, but here are my favourite bits.  How do you think digital retail and ecommerce will look in 25 years?

Charles Leadbeater, author and social entrepreneur says the open web may be a thing of the past:

The open web created by idealist geeks, hippies and academics, who believed in the free and generative flow of knowledge, is being overrun by a web that is safer, more controlled and commercial, created by problem-solving pragmatists.

Henry Ford worked out how to make money by making products people wanted to own and buy for themselves. Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs are working out how to make money from allowing people to share, on their terms.

Facebook and Apple are spawning cloud capitalism, in which consumers allow companies to manage information, media, ideas, money, software, tools and preferences on their behalf, holding everything in vast, floating clouds of shared data. We will be invited to trade invasions into our privacy – companies knowing ever more about our lives – for a more personalised service. We will be able to share, but on their terms.

Julian Assange and the movement that has been ignited by WikiLeaks is the most radical version of the alternative: a free, egalitarian, open and public web. The fate of this movement will be a sign of things to come. If it can command broad support, then the open web has a chance to remain a mainstream force. If, however, it becomes little more than a guerrilla campaign, then the open web could be pushed to the margins, along with national public radio.

Russell Davies, head of planning at the advertising agency Ogilvy and Mather, predicts a shift in the relationship between society and advertising as video screens become even more common.

…what’ll really change advertising will be how we relate to it and what we’re prepared to let it do. After all, when you look at advertising from the past the basic techniques haven’t changed; what seems startlingly alien are the attitudes it was acceptable to portray and the products you were allowed to advertise.

… we’ll also be nudged into renegotiating the relationship between society and advertising,because over the next few years we’re going to be interrupted by advertising like never before. Video screens are getting so cheap and disposable that they’ll be plastered everywhere we go. And they’ll have enough intelligence and connectivity that they’ll see our faces, do a quick search on Facebook to find out who we are and direct a message at us based on our purchasing history.At least, that’ll be the idea. It probably won’t work very well and when it does work it’ll probably drive us mad. Marketing geniuses are working on this stuff right now, but not all of them recognise that being allowed to do this kind of thing depends on societal consent – push the intrusion too far and people will push back.

Society once did a deal accepting advertising because it seemed occasionally useful and interesting and because it paid for lots of journalism and entertainment. It’s not necessarily going to pay for those things for much longer so we might start questioning whether we want to live in a Blade Runner world brought to us by Cillit Bang.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Tim Almond November 15, 2011 at 15:02

Predicting things over 25 years is very hard. In 25 years, a portable phone has gone from a suitcase that cost a small fortune to run and only made calls, to a small computer that will find you the nearest place to get a latte with your voice. Not that we knew what a latte was 25 years ago.

What will carbon nanotubes, fusion power or 3d printing bring to our future? What will our growing ageing population bring? Will we have a war with someone, or will the middle east be transformed into something like a western democracy?

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Chelsea Blacker November 15, 2011 at 16:51

I look forward to learning about carbon nanotubes, fusion power, and 3d printing, as I don’t know anything about those right now!

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