The future of ...

Erwin van Lun predict the long term future and blogs about developments today gradually shaping that future. Also in Dutch

BNN makes people smarter

Dutch broadcast organization BNN is going to make people smarter. Presenter Katja Schuurman in the show Get Smarter in A Week will show it is really possible to become a little bit smarter. Famous and infamous Dutch people will get intensive training and spectacular exercises to learn to use their brains anew (ld, Dutch). TV programs are virtual experiences: experiences from a distance. They become more and more personal. Now still for big groups of people, in the future we will follow a personal training with a small group of people, live or not live. A training maybe 10,000 people will follow at the same time, and pay for with big bucks. But we will get smarter through the training, so it is worth it. Now it is still content for big groups of people, on a small budget; in the future content will deliver meaningful experiences for people to carry on with. The selection of the right experiences in this area will be the point of attention for career coaching brands, brands which help us in our personal development. This is a small step in that direction.

Violence in Darfur at Google Earth

The Holocaust Museum Washington now shows videos of the civil war in Darfur at Google Earth. Pictures and reports of ordinary people can also be seen there. We imitate the real world, real time, in the virtual world. In the future we will be able to experience everything from a distance, while feeling we are really there. Today, last week, one hundred years ago, a mix of those, or even in the future. This is a small step in that direction.

KPN becomes informal

KPN is becoming more and more informal. Earlier employees were called by their first name (Dutch), now consumers are given a leaflet 'we're happy with you!' In this leaflet the consumer is addressed completely with 'je', while the site still uses 'u'. (Dutch, like French and German, still distinguishes between a formal and informal second person pronoun.) Two developments can be seen in this. Firstly brands are experiencing a 'brand coming out' in which they become more equal, more transparent and start to develop, operate and communicate more openly with the consumer. This is shown by being on a first name basis amongst other things. Secondly brands will enter the dialogue with individual consumers and maintain a consistent tone like people have when they speak with one another. 'Je' on the site means 'je' on the telephone and 'je' in a leaflet. Other people who'd rather keep their distance will be constantly addressed with 'u': on the site, in the leaflet, on the phone. By that time you'll be welcomed into KPN's virtual world by a brand agent who recognizes you instantly and continues where the dialogue left off. Currently brands are struggling with this, but the looking for the right tone and equality is a step in the evolution of brands.

Psychologie Magazine with personalized covers

Subscribers of Dutch Psychologie Magazine received the anniversary issue with their own picture on the cover. Through Printing On Demand (POD) more than one thousand subscribers received their own personalized version of the magazine. A selection of these covers can be seen in an exhibition in the ‘Kunsthal’ (Art Exhibition Center) in Rotterdam (mf, Dutch). Even magazines become more personal. The internet becomes leading, paper is for learning and entertainment. But the more personal, the better. Especially when it is shown on the coffee table, then it is part of you. If you then can adjust it to your own taste, consumers will not turn their backs on magazines.

Rolling shoes

Scientists are working on shoes which make you feel like you’re walking forward when you wear them. Through small wheels in the shoes turning in opposite direction, it feels like we move forward while in reality we stay in the same place (fc, Dutch). We try to imitate the real world as much as possible, so we can experience everything from out of our own homes. So that we can jump from experience to experience. These experiences in the future will be provided by brands. This is a small step in that direction.

Google tests voice recognition

Google Labs are testing their Voice Local Search, with which consumers can select a local service through voice recognition. When you call 1-800-466-4411, first needs to state the city and (US) state, then the name of the company (Giovanni’s Pizza), or the category (pizza). Sometimes you’ll get more choices which you can all respond to through speech. In the end you are connected (for free), or you’ll receive a text message with the contact details. It works pretty good already, although Google sometimes does make mistakes in the voice recognition. It is a very difficult process, but step by step brands make the leap to understand our spoken word. This is a small step in that direction.

Book goes international

Since the publication of my book ‘Van Massamerk naar Mensmerk’ (From Mass Brand to Personal Brand) in August 2005 many people have asked me if the summary was available in English. I have always wanted to do that, but because of my focus on the Netherlands I never really got to do it. Very recently however I have started working on a new, more international book, and I am looking for international cooperation. For this I very much needed the English summary of my first book: see the translation below (in cooperation with Winning Letters). The new book by the way has the same theme: the future and its impact today, but it has a very wide scope (society, economy, marketing, with much more attention for the human species) instead of a very narrow scope (brands). Brands will still make an important part of the book, because I think they will gain a lot of importance in the lives of consumer compared to their importance in the 21st century. To be continued…

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Add text, audio and video to Google Maps

At Google Maps it is now possible to add text, audio and video, and share these with others (demo). Anything that exists, has existed before, or could exist in a fantasy, we record and share with others. We experience nostalgia, learn about an environment, or get inspiration. Facts and fiction are intertwined. If in the future for example online encyclopedia Wikipedia connects to Google Maps, we will see every historical, biological and geological fact on the map, and we can see the world change through a time line. And with an astronomic connection we can see it at any existing or non-existing celestial body. Thus we scroll through time and space, through facts and fiction, in a virtual world which often maybe resembles the real world, and definitely feels more and more real. A worlds in which brands are naturally present, like in the physical world. This is another step in that direction.

Spendings internet higher than radio

In 2008 advertisers will spend more money on advertisements on the internet than on the radio. According to ZenithOptimedia advertisers (brands!) will spend 288 million euros on the internet next year. The radio will receive 282 million euros in the same year. The increase in internet spendings is stable. In 2006, 164 million euros were spent on the internet, in 2007 this will be about 222 million, the year after that 288 million, and for 2009 ZenithOptiMedia expects the spendings to reach 354 million euros. (em, Dutch). First more than newspapers, soon more than radio, and in the end more than TV. Once the media world integrates, there will be only one important medium, with the internet network as its infrastructure, but with many different kinds of screens, displays, and speakers.

Teenagers allowed to work longer

13 and 14 year olds are allowed to work more hours per week in the Netherlands. From now on, they can work 7 hours on Saturday instead of 6. During the week they are allowed to start one hour earlier: at 7 am instead of 8 am. Furthermore, they are allowed to perform in films and on stages more often. (ld, Dutch). Children this way get responsibilities at an earlier age. The border between learning and working will slowly disappear over the coming years. Starting at a young age, children will deliver small contributions to society. They will spend less time learning in school, but will work, in cooperation with other students, in projects for companies and governments, physically together but also especially virtually connected. The lifelong student thus returns in some respect. On the other hand they will learn longer, as the world society needs more specializations. And in a changing society it will be very normal for a fifty year old person to start a new education, or at least be less productive, as jobs will change rapidly, while this fifty year old will still have to work for twenty five years (for less hours of course, but still). Letting go of the restrictions for young children is part of this development.

Reviews important for online purchases

Reviews of other users are becoming more and more important for online purchases through comparison sites, while price becomes less important. Research shows that 49% of the online buyers state that price is the most important factor to compare products, a decline of 9% compared to 2003. Feedback of other online buyers increased by 11% (mf, Dutch). The effect of other people’s influence becomes stronger. Now the reviews of random others are still very important. If in the future we get a connection with our social coaching brand, for example Hyves, we will also see the experiences of friends (or friends of friends): people we trust. The effect will be even larger. This means that products (including services) have to become better, for a fair price. And that on a worldwide scale.

Mirror or narrow casting?

When the lady in this picture comes closer to this screen, she will see a mirror. Click on the picture for a demo (fc, Dutch). Every display around us becomes interactive. Now just as an advertising medium, but in the future we will be able to directly ask for more information, print a coupon for discount in the restaurant of bar we are at, or have an e-mail or text message sent to our mobile phone. Or if we want we can read our e-mail, or visit friends in other bars. Every display will offer us entrance to a virtual world. This is a small step in that direction.

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Apple must price evenly in Europe

The European Commission will research price arrangements between Apple and record companies about the distribution through iTunes. This distribution differs per European country. A person from the Netherlands can only buy music through the Dutch iTunes store (by checking the origin of the credit card). According to the European Commission, lots of rules are violated here, as companies are not allowed to apply different prices within Europe (am, Dutch). Europe slowly becomes one. Now through this step; in a next step copyright will be legislated on a European level as well. For music, for films, and for games. In distribution, borders then fade too. Once something is produced, it will be directly available for everybody, at the same price. First in Europe, but earlier or later anywhere in the world. This is a small step in that direction.

Visits keep increasing

Since the start of, early 2005, the amount of visitors has been increasing steadily. After the Summer vacation however, there was a huge increase. This is when I started writing more, among others in the new categories Media evolution, World evolution, Insight in Humans, Twists, and a couple of other categories. Although the amount of postings has stayed more or less the same after the Summer, all statistics are going up. This goes for the amount of visitors as well as the frequency of their visits, their page views, hits, bytes, everything. Very nice, as that is what I’m working for.

At the moment I’m working on a completely renewed site. The content will stay the same, but the design will completely change. At the moment the design is mostly in line with the book; the next version will be in line with my most important activities: readings, workshops and seminars. But let me comfort you: there will not be any flashing banner trying to lure the visitor into buying a Nokia, upgrade to a better connection or another car. This web log follows changes in media, marketing, brands, people, and society. Nothing less. Nothing more. And it will continue to do that.

Video in which you can type

Through Mojiti consumers can add texts, balloons, or images to videos. Those videos can come from any location, for example from YouTube. Then consumers can share the videos with the added materials on their own websites, comparable to sharing YouTube videos (through a snippet). I tested the service with the video of the Adidas Store in Paris (which in itself is worth watching), and I am happy about the result. If you watch it, you get two-in-one. But it still is just a step in the media evolution. Two steps further and we will see a real revolution in television.

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