Looking Forward or Backwards?

by Jay Deragon on 09/02/2008

Everyone would like to now the future before it gets here. If we knew the future we could prepare ourselves for the subsequent changes any future is likely to bring. However, knowing the future is not something certain rather probable.

Steve Rubel writes:Trends That Will Help Define the Future

The best way to think about new media, I have learned, is to look at the recent past and at the trends that are here now and seemingly have staying power. Apple CEO Steve Jobs once famously saidyou can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.” He’s right. With that in mind, there are three trends that are likely to shape things over the next four years.

  1. The Attention Crash

Though the current global financial crisis grabs all the headlines, there’s another storm quietly brewing – a crisis of attention scarcity. The inputs we have into our lives – that which we allow and those that
are forced upon us – are exceeding what we are capable of managing.

  1. Social Networks Become “Like Air”

Social networking is here to stay – but it’s changing. As my fellow panelist Charlene Li says, it’s becoming “like air” on the Web. In essence, social networking is nothing new, really. It’s simply a digital, global and scalable manifestation of our desire to communicate with other humans. The technology makes it easy for like-minded individuals to connect and collaborate around the topics they care about. This can range from personal to professional interests. A lot of it revolves around social causes.

  1. Google: The Reputation Engine

The third trend that also will continue its current trajectory is the rising influence of search, particularly Google. The search engine, as of this writing, has 70 percent market share in the U.S. and is even higher in other countries – but not all.

Google is much more than a search engine. It’s media.

For a copy of Steve’s full report called North American New Media Academic Summit go here

If Probable Then What?

When you consider the three issues Steve addresses then one can somewhat conclude critical thinking required to prepare for the future. Critical thinking starts with an end in mind and a backwards map which charters a likely course to reach the end result, the future.

Individuals and organizations wishing to capture future opportunities fueled by all this social stuff would be wise to step away from the urgent but unimportant issues of the day and focus on the not so urgent but important issues of tomorrow. Otherwise individuals and organizations will get stuck in the “chaos of the moment” and decisions based on the moment are likely to create rework, reactions and further “chaos of the moment” in the future.

To plan for a bright future we must ask and plan according to a defined end in mind. The problem is most individuals and organizations do not think about the end in mind rather the chaos of the moment.

Get it? What say you?

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