Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Eat, Pray and Tech

Imagine a world where your refrigerator emails you when you’re out of milk or your mobile phone buzzes when your dog leaves the yard. You won’t have to imagine it much longer. Such connectedness will be one of the defining trends of 2011, according to JWT’s annual trend report. Among the predictions: We’ll increasingly see worlds colliding, with technology impinging on areas that were formerly tech-free; we’ll also people on technology overload choose to disconnect, at least for some amount of time each day. JWT compiled its sixth annual list by conducting surveys in both America and Britain and also getting input from 50 of the agency’s planners in two dozen markets worldwide.
The reports overriding theme is the economy and technology, the borders between the online world and the physical world are becoming increasingly fuzzy. Mobile gadgets are bridging the two worlds--the web accompanies you and helps you navigate the physical realm--and all kinds of Objects/devices are becoming internet-enabled.   So not only will we have a multitude of connected gadgets, from e-readers to phones to televisions, but objects like fridges or even dog collars will connect to the internet, alerting us that we need certain groceries or that Rover has strayed beyond the basement, for example. The latter is often referred to as the Internet of Things.

If there are two trends that stand out to me in this report, it’s their Eat, Pray, Tech trend and De-Teching trend—they both address our increasing dependency on technology, but from completely different angles. Eat, Pray, Tech speaks to that fact that high-tech devices and services--and the skills to use them--are fast becoming as integral to people as food and clothing. In an interconnected, tech-driven and -enabled marketplace, the latest technology will be more than just a luxury or a guilty pleasure. (Example: The story of a homeless-by-choice writer who owns an iPad and a netbook is symbolic of tech as a core need.)
 At the same time, as our dependency on technology rises, so too will our desire to dial it down. De-Teching speaks to the idea that more people will log off—at least temporarily—or engage in one tech activity at a time in an effort to re-engage in the offline present and/or to rewire their brains to be more effective.  (Example: People have begun voluntarily abstaining from digital media and in some cases initiating unplugging drives around certain holidays.)

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