After enjoying JWT‘s roundup of radness from their 2011 predictive trendspotting BIZINT department, I inferred a couple of times that they my have missed some things to watch in the coming year. I struggled with whether or not I was going to do a 2011 predictions post of my own (especially with all of the other great [and TERRIBLE] ones out there). As I intimated in the JWT post though, it’s tough to maintain your street cred as an armchair futurist if you don’t make some play calls – good or bad. It’s not like I can go on TV and just fry motherfuckers with my brain like Jamais Cascio:
Here then is the Must. Be. AWESOME!!! 2011 Predictive Tapdance:
The Elephant in the Room: Islam
For all the loveliness that “hope” and “change” brought us in 2009, 2010 saw a whole lot of retrenching when it came to comprehending and engaging Islam. Look for the debate about what constitutes Islam, Islamism, what various groups of modern Muslims want in today’s world, and popular revolutions in the Middle East to ratchet up. Also keep an eye on what the Muslim Brotherhood does in the wake of Mubarak’s resignation: they will telegraph a lot of the conflict about modern Islam.
More Mashups, More Memes
I don’t care what anybody says: mashups and memes will continue to provide ample entertainment to We People of the Internetz. Look for advertisers to begin capitalizing on meme-trending and mashup-producing. Performance indicators: the next acquisition/website startup from the I Can Has Cheezburger collective AND Wieden & Kennedy after hiring the creator of this AWESOME video–
As gaming continues to seep into the popular consciousness through applications like competitive geolocation (i.e. Foursquare and Gowalla) and passive social gaming (i.e. Farmville), look for more creative approaches to “seeding” the cloud with various types of content. Be it for advertising or grassroots mobilization purposes, effective influence and content promotion campaigns of the future will unfold via a variety of platforms. StickyBits and other QR code scanning apps are good indicators of tactical implementations of a cloud seeding strategy.
If WikiLeaks has taught us anything, masses of anonymous hackers can make or break online footprints. With Anonymous’ mobilization against Amazon and other deniers of service against WikiLeaks, it is apparent that all-out online cyberwar can and will occur at a rate of minutes and hours. Government will continue to play catch-up to the independent entities playing havoc with cybersecurity. DDoS attacks will become typical tools of the trade, and countermeasures against such attacks will demonstrate a new “arms race” in evolving security and attack technology. We will also see cyberwars play out in days between entities if not hours and minutes, the extent of which will run the gamut from mere inconvenience to full-on revolution (there’s a reason why Mubarak shut off the Internet, yo). It is possible that a wild 4channer will crack U.S. cyber defenses in 2011 and perhaps provide a 9/11-like impetus for government to begin getting serious with policy and legislation to operate in the digital age.
Nobody Cares About Public Diplomacy
Barack Obama’s 2009 Cairo speech demonstrated that the U.S. government will continue to centralize public diplomacy initiatives in the White House, leaving State Department assets twisting in the wind as hollow emperors in the field. U.S. legislators will increase the depths to which they could give a shit less in 2011 about PD because PD does not create jobs for Americans. Meanwhile, 20th century institutions of public diplomacy like Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty and the Broadcasting Board of Governors will continue to wither and die in the digital age as on-the-minute social reporting and citizen journalism make them further irrelevant. Funding for PD initiatives will continue to stagnate while implementers will find more creative methods of achieving strategic PD goals, mostly via the private sector tech sector and citizen diplomacy organizations. China and some European countries will continue to lead with non-obvious but concerted national efforts in global influence, the effects of which will remain undiscovered by their targets (i.e., US) for years.
Passive Social Gaming EXPLODES
Related to my concept of “cloud seeding,” 2011 will see an explosion of social games in the vein of Farmville. Already, 2011 has seen Zynga publish a suster game to its masses-tranquilizing hit called Cityville. Transmedia, alternate reality gaming, and other episodic social gaming entities will experiment further with audience acquisition, retention, and profit conversion this year. Advertisers will cash in on these mechanisms en masse, driving ad-tired audiences from game to game and forcing ad strategists to begin thinking in different ways about social advertising. We will also see a continued harmonization of transmedia and ARGs cross-platform, online and offline, for social gaming experiences that will, for example, weave in and out of Facebook, Twitter, iPad and other mobile apps, and in-person performance art. More and more people will join longer term games socially as new genres are introduced on social networks. Performance indicator: keep your eyes peeled on LinkedIn for a business-based social game that trains executives in a number of administrivial and professional functions.
Location-based Services Get Profitable
Also related to “cloud seeding,” location-based app services such as Foursquare and Gowalla will rapidly get profitable this year. While many detractors continue to ridicule the small audience size these services carry, their growth will continue by orders of magnitude in 2011, so much so that advertisers and marketers for brick-and-mortar businesses will pay oodles of dough to access their users. Look for more unique rewards for users who check in to local places and events as well as the beginning of an actual value system based on fictional goods (i.e. Gowalla’s items).
People Begin To Realize All This Social Stuff Really IS Creating Socialism 2.0
Marx said it would take capitalism to run its course and fall out of favor before true socialism could take hold of the world. Macro-philosophers and economists will slowly begin to see that that is happening on a mass scale in 2011. Group buying services like Groupon and Living Social, crowdfunded charity programs, realtime crowdsourced news reporting, and near-realtime media curation will continue to prove that power really is all about the people. Democratization of content and price will, therefore, produce The New Socialism or Socialism 2.0. This will freak out conservatives and create performance indicators on conservative news networks that decry not only a socialist presidency but a socialist economy beginning to develop. Look for influencers that combat these conservative perceptions as the emerging leaders of the Socialist 2.0 movement (which in and of itself will never be referred to as an organized, network movement with a solid objective… it will just happen). Parallel to this, fortunes will begin to change hands as sales for various product areas crash: for example, the comics industry will continue to lose sales in print as consumers demand more digital, interactive content.
We Need a New Narrative
No more Harry Potter. No more Lord of the Rings. No more Star Wars. What’s the next big franchise? 2011 will see experimental repurposing of old ideas into new franchises. My money is on Thor and Captain America to be the starting point for a huge Avengers movie franchise in 2011 and 2012 (with reams of associated multimedia content) while Green Lantern and Transformers: Dark of the Moon tank.
What Do You Think?
Got some predictions of your own? Think I’m off-base about some of these things to watch? Let me know in the comments.