Insights · March 26th, 2009

Yesterday I enjoyed speaking to the Woods Creek Consulting Technology Executive roundtable group. My assignment as a futurist speaker was to share news of the leading edge of technology development. We also did a live webcast, which was announced here, a link that also takes you to the webcast archive and to the slide show as well.

What did I address? I literally looked at updates to technology trends that I have heard of only in this year. So, I used a video-heavy program to illustrate, nano-muscles, nano-energy, 6th sense IT, and Intrago future transportation systems. The most interest discussion focused on social network trends like Twitter – about what they suggest about the future of communication.

My twitter slide was headlined: “Twitter: The Next Big Thing, or Tipping Point to a Meaning-free Future.” Think about it. If you are following, or being followed by 500-5000 people at a Twitter account, as many now are, and if each of those followers “tweets” 5 times a day (many tweet more often than that), then you are supposedly going to scan between 1500 and 25,000 additional new messages each day. Even at just 140 characters per message, no one is going to do that. In addition, a majority of messages contain a link to a web-page being referred to, and thus you have thousands of webpages that you may also expect to review. There are filters and search tools to narrow that load, but my sense of Twitter at the moment is this: millions of “messages” being sent into the ether each day, but only a small percentage actually being read, or even noticed, by anyone. Is this communication? I don’t know. It is building an archive of links that I presume will be stored for a while, and as a new library it may be interesting.

On the other hand, as Twitter is supposed to be the most immediate of information tools, if one were to treat it only as a searchable but historical data base then it does not add much value to what we already have. As a data base of the immediate moment – who is saying what on what topic, right now, perhaps there is utility. Still, like the proverbial tree falling in a deserted wood, if millions of tweets are produced but few are read, do they make a sound?

The webcast was done by Tim Reha. You can access the webcast archive (clips) of this program here.

Science & Tech

Nikolas Badminton

Nikolas is the Chief Futurist of the Futurist Think Tank. He is world-renowned futurist speaker, a Fellow of The RSA, and has worked with over 300 of the world’s most impactful companies to establish strategic foresight capabilities, identify trends shaping our world, help anticipate unforeseen risks, and design equitable futures for all. In his new book – ‘Facing Our Futures’ – he challenges short-term thinking and provides executives and organizations with the foundations for futures design and the tools to ignite curiosity, create a framework for futures exploration, and shift their mindset from what is to WHAT IF…

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