Thoughts on Current Trends

I thought I'd bounce around a few thoughts. It's basically about taking a few key trends and looking at them at a different angle. Don't know what's going to come out of it, but the comments are open (although moderated to kill spam, so no instant gratification).

Branded utility. It seems to be a misnomer; it's not about brands; those already are supposed to provide objective/subjective "utility", it's about communications. It's a great concept, though: imagine designing your packaging so that it can double as kids furniture, for example. Check out this playhouse by Paperpod. It's about planning for second life (not the game) -- designing the product with the entire consumption cycle in mind. It doesn't have to be big; adding a fold-out handle to a paper cup is another good but smaller-scale example of branded utility.

Intelligent design. We need more ads and products that have message propagation mechanisms built into them from the beginning. It's not exactly viral in the popular sense. "Viral" as we know it is about evolution: you drop your messages into a tank with sharks and the fittest/funniest/hippest survives. Intelligent design ads will be like YouTube videos, they will let readers-viewers to take them away and plant elsewhere. Amazon's affiliate links are a great example. Another great example are print ads that decorate walls in dorm rooms. I think this is exactly the logic behind Flip's model.

From Editors-in-Chief to Editors-en-Masse. Consumers may want to be in total control but there's just too much stuff to control. Hence the Rise of Mass Editors -- bloggers, gatekeepers, filterers. Blogging is a lot about putting together compilations of secondary material relevant and valuable to a specific group of readers. It's not so much about citizen journalism as it is about citizen editing. The bigger force is not consumer-generated content, it's consumer-edited content. The mass editing phenomenon of the blogosphere will migrate to other media. It's already happening in online radio and to an extent in online video as well. It will come to the living-room TV, too. People are moving from passing around magazine articles or recipes or VHS tapes to emailed video clips and eventually entire TV schedules. This will be the next big thing after cable; millions of channels put together and shared by citizen editors with 1% being the most popular. Can't wait to see if Apple TV will be it.

Content a-la carte. Speaking of magazine articles, I'd love to see a magazine that comes as a set of unbound sheets in a folder. Kind of like Gum magazine.

Media communism. The means of media production, distribution and consumption are being nationalized. But it's not only the consumer who's benefiting, it's also the advertiser. Advertisers have been creating their own media for years and it's now easier than ever -- from direct mail and printed newsletters to websites, then blogs, and now online TV channels (

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