‘The best way to predict the future is to invent one’

By Chris Courtney, Tribune Interactive/SND

‘The best way to predict the future is to invent one.’ — an Alan Key quote that Wiedermann used to sum up his presentation

Newspapers and the media as a whole are always looking over their shoulder for the next advancement in communication that is going to steal people away. It happened when radio came along, then TV and now the internet. Somehow all of those things exist and yet newspapers have survived. So new technology hasn’t killed off other media, rather we tend to see advances in old media because we think differently when new mediums and products are inserted into our collective conciousness.

One of Wiedemann’s many examples included a illustrative usage of paint — we’ve always had paint but no one in the 1700s would have painted a parking spot around a tree to illustrate the dangers of drunk driving because there were no cars around for people to drive while intoxicated. This is a new idea and application of a very old and simple medium.

From the many examples presented it can be deduced that new advances are coming to newspapers because we are using technology in our daily lives that will allow us to come up with solutions that we previously would not have thought of. This is a dangerous assumption to make and I would hate anyone to think Wiedermann is simply telling the attendees not to worry and that someone else will figure it out. Finding the next step for news distribution is a task that rest firmly on our collective shoulders.

Wiedemann’s insights

  • New generations continue to use old technology in addition to using the new advances that come along over time.
  • 25% of facebook users are over 50 years old.
  • Our mediums are overlapping so much that brands are having to compete for everyone’s time.
  • Interactivity is the central pillar of communication in all media.
  • Image time: The basketball runner going through the glass, the afro at the subway station, drunk driving parking spot around a tree
  • The point is that we are coming up with new ideas for old media based on advances that are occuring in other industries. All of these ideas could have existed hundreds of years ago, but we didn’t. Why? Cultural acceptance, concepts based on new products in the marketplace,
  • Technology is great if you can use it, but you don’t feel compelled to talk about it. Like good type and good design, good technology is invisible to the end user.
  • Interface design and mobile phone design have improved the fastest in the shortest amount of time
  • 80s = Graphic interface available for computers
  • 90s = WYSIWYG impacted how we used computers and led the way from analog to digital and computing power finally began to catch up with what we wanted to do with computers
  • 00s = Democratization and convergence
  • 00s 2.0 = Collaboration and sharing (Sharing has moved way beyond just music.)
  • Digital natives vs. digital immigrants: Children today have a completely different view of the world than their parents do. When we think trash, they natively think recycle. We we think paper, they think dead trees. So many things that we think about as harmless they have a very firm negative stance.
  • Great technology advances are on the horizon with only cost holding things back. Once cost comes down, the masses will see these products.

Wiedemann’s 10 tech trends for the future:

  1. Internet
  2. Software ( visualcomplexity.com / number27,com )
  3. Broadband
  4. Wireless
  5. Mobile (newspapers and books are the most mobile things around)
  6. Voice recognition
  7. Mass customization (as costs comes down, more customization options will becomes available)
  8. Social networking
  9. GPS
  10. Instant message