2011 will be the year that:

Here are my more serious predictions.  Some I want to come true, some I simply suspect have a chance of becoming reality.  What’s on your list?

  1. Obama develops a backbone and starts to be the president we elected.  He will also learn that Gibbs has to go and that he needs a far better comms team.
  2. Facebook or Twitter gets bought/files for an IPO (I have no inside knowledge).  If this happens the IPO market will catch fire for lots of other companies.
  3. The Euro becomes a common currency for the chosen few of EU economies.  If not at least one EU nation will file for bankruptcy (Can they do that?).
  4. Foursquare goes the way of Digg.  Facebook’s places has already made them irrelevant.  The final nail in the coffin is just waiting to be driven in.
  5. Microsoft Kinect will spawn a whole new category of businesses well beyond gaming.  The possibilities are endless.
  6. A major daily newspaper will stop its printed version.  The economics have pushed them all to the brink.  One will jump.
  7. Julian Assange will end up in jail.  It may not be in Sweden but he will be found charged by someone for something.
  8. The environment will come back on the agenda.  As the economy improves people will stop worrying about their jobs and start paying attention to the horrors that climate change will bring if we don’t act.
  9. Those of us in PR will figure out digital comms and we’ll be shocked by what it means for us.  We’ll find out either by accident or because a competitor that we never expected starts to show us the way.
  10. Blackberry (RIM) either realizes its products are horrible and changes path or it accelerates towards that brick wall that is currently at the end of the road they are on.

The media has been replaced

It used to be that we craved perspective and information from the media, largely because this was our only option (well apart from going to the pub with our loud mouthed friends I guess).  Anyway, it’s clear that the media got really good at influencing our behavior, likes and dislikes.  It’s also clear that it got awfully complacent. So when social media arrived it kind of ignored it.  Journalists often decried bloggers as amateurs.  How right they were.  If they’d thought about it a bit longer maybe they’d have realized that being an amateur can have its advantages.  The media was also slow to appreciate that people don’t care who gives them their news, their insight and perspective.  They just care that it is accurate and that it engages them.  We were loyal to media channels because our only choice was another media channel.  Given a completely different choice, many of us took it.  This isn’t to say the media is irrelevant and should become an historical footnote.  The media is potentially more relevant than ever.  Our world is becoming more and more complex and the expectations of the population ever more sophisticated.  We want to know, to be entertained and to be educated right now and in a way that we want.  We want live video and close up photos of the most obscure moments, not just the moments when presidents are shot.  We want to share our thoughts and hear the thoughts of others on what is happening.  We also want to act on the decisions this content may provoke.  All this and more is possible through the media, yet for some reason the media still chooses to limit the ways we participate in their process and they our lives.  So we turn to Facebook, Twitter and other social networks to learn, laugh and get stuff done.  As a result, the newspapers lie unread at the end of the driveway, the magazines in the dentist office curl at the edges and the TV stays turned off.  It’s not too late for the media but the media has to adapt to the new world.  It has to accept that it has competition for our attention.  Until it does, editorial teams will get smaller and magazines thinner.  Blame will of course be put on advertisers but we all know that advertisers are the effect and not the cause.  Come on media, get social, get engaged and show us what you’re made of.  And stop being so precious about the ‘role’ of the media.  Yes, you have a role but that role is to get us engaged, laughing, crying and doing not just listening to one point of view.


Has Wikileaks gone too far?

Wikileaks has gone from being an annoyance to the US government to public enemy number one in a matter of months.  We now have various top law makers are talking about legislation that would severely cramp their style.  Not content with annoying world leaders, the site has now said it will turn its attention to big business.  A year ago, few would likely have worried about what may appear on the site but given Wikileaks’ apparent attitude to risk it would appear ‘business’ may have a lot to worry about.  Commercial secrets of all manner would appear to be fair game.  After all, the site is prepared to leak military classified information that puts lives of innocent people at risk.  If so, then the damage extend to cover the lives of people in the middle east to damage to brands that could cause thousands of western economy jobs to be lost.  Of course, the argument to support Wikileaks is that they are only letting people know what governments and businesses are up to behind their backs.  In some cases it has real merit.  Corruption and other unlawful acts should be named and the people responsible shamed.  But simply revealing secrets because they are a) interesting and b) secret isn’t a great argument.  I’d like to see Wikileaks survive this storm but I’d also like to see it act more responsibly.  Without sensible self regulation it will receive harsh government regulation and all its efforts will have been in vain.

I’m pretty sure the owners of Wikileaks have secrets they’d rather not reveal.  These secrets  may be fascinating and if revealed could be acutely embarrassing to the people responsible.  Perhaps they could give that some thought the next time they dump someone else’s laundry on the internet.