November 5th, 2009
In the past three months I had delivered around 35 speeches and presentations. During about 25 of them I have asked the audience the question that is the title of this column (why I will explain later).
.Whether it is a confidential gathering of 10-15 CEOs or a hotel ballroom of 400-500 people, when I ask this question, I have never had anyone raise their hand. That is worth repeating. 25 times I have asked audiences to “Raise your hand if you love your cable company” and not a single person has raised their hand!
Not only that, but most of the time this question provokes laughter. People think the question is funny. The laughter clearly implies the absurdity of the question. Playing to the audience I usually quickly say something like “Of course you don’t. How can you love “maybe we’ll make it to your house on Tuesday between 8-4 and maybe we won’t” or “of course, why would you love a business model that is like going to a restaurant, ordering the chicken and being asked how you like your steak prepared because you have to buy everything on the menu whether you want to consume it or not”. Even if you only watch 5-8 channels you have to buy a 100. People nod their heads turn to each other and make comments, none of which seem positive.
Now some of you might immediately react that the question is unfair because I used the word “love”. Well think about how the …
July 24th, 2008
The tag line of this blog is “A Future Look at Today”. It is not a political blog, nor is this a political column. I have assiduously kept politics out of this space leaving partisan conversations about campaign issues to others. There is a lot of heat around partisan politics and such heat can prevent clarity. As a futurist I think about the future by looking at the trends, patterns and dynamic forces that exist or are beginning to form. Readers of this column come here to get a sense of what might happen and why. That is the purpose of this column today.
In my “2007/2008″ column published on January 1, 2008, before the Iowa caucus, my forecast for the 2008 election was:
“.. it looks to this observer that 2008 will be a Democratic landslide year on the order of 1936 and 1964. Who will be the President in 2009? The junior senator from Illinois.”
This forecast was and is based upon history, and an analysis of certain forces currently reshaping the world today. As a number of people who eagerly made bets with me in 2007 can attest, I have been saying that Barack Obama would be the next President of the United States for more than a year. The reason is that he represents, embodies and is utilizing powerful new forces that are in ascendancy today.
Disintermediation has been, and will continue to be one of the most powerful forces in the …
November 27th, 2007
The electronic media is a wonderful invention. The forty year old vision of Marshall McLuhan of a global village where the electronic media connects us all and becomes an extension of our brains is now truly a reality. The power to educate, connect and inspire are all inherently available on radio, television and the internet. That is why the television news coverage of this past Thanksgiving week was so incredibly disappointing.
There seemed to be only three news stories. Whether I watched the network new programs, the cable news networks or the local news the stories were the same.
News story number one: Airline travel over the Thanksgiving holiday. The anchor throws to one or more reporters live at the check in areas of major airports who breathlessly talks about how busy it might be, what the weather might do to flight schedules and what delays to expect. All of this reported within the context of the recent unfriendly skies of commercial aviation. This of course is accompanied by interviews with a few travelers and what they expected or had experienced. It seemed like the only people traveling were mothers with young children. Every single story had a mom with a young child in arms talking about going to grandmaâ€™s house.
News story number two: The unusually high price of gas for November. Segueing with, â€˜for those that arenâ€™t flying there is the problem of record gasoline pricesâ€™. This usually is followed by an interview with a motorist at a gas pump or …
June 6th, 2007
What is the future of the book and the book publishing industry? That was the question that was in my mind while attending the Book Expo America convention this past week end. In a business that is mature, flat to down in unit sales, and seems to dearly hold on to past business practices, what might be the road map for success over the next twenty years?
First, letâ€™s take a look at other content businesses, what has happened to them in this digital age, and what that might indicate for the book business.
Music is relevant in that the music business was disintermediated by the Internet. It is not relevant in that the listener still uses speakers, earphones and ear plugs and, except for convenience and portability doesnâ€™t really care whether the music comes from vinyl, tape, CD or audio file [except of course for dedicated audiophiles]. The physical listening experience is the same. Reading a book is a physical experience that would be fundamentally changed by moving to a screen.
Television/video has also been changed by the Internet. Viewing is now on a variety of screens, and is essentially becoming on demand. Even though the variety of screens has increased, viewing is still on a screen, as it has always been. Where video can give a glimpse into the future of books is that, at least on the Internet, the power of gatekeepers has lessened. â€œViewer generated contentâ€ might be analogous to self publishing via the …
June 5th, 2007
As mentioned in the last column I have had the opportunity to attend several conventions this year. In January I attended the Consumer Electronic Show and the NATPE television conference, both in Las Vegas and in February the Chicago Auto Show. This past weekend I was in New York attending the BEA book publishing convention. I have attended a number of NATPE conventions, having been in the television business, but the other three were new to me to attend as both a futurist and as a member of the press. Inevitably I spent a bit of time thinking comparatively on all four conventions.
The CES show is a reflection not only of what is going on in the world, but was also what will be going on. Given the speed and high level of innovation that technology and particularly the technology that people use for communication, entertainment and work, this convention has become a directional sign post on the future of the world. The media covers this convention excessively, telling its readers and viewers what they will be seeing, buying and using in the months and years ahead. [The comparison of the press rooms of these four conventions was startling. At any one time there were 50-75 people furiously typing on keyboards in the press rooms of the CES, NATPE and Auto Shows. I never saw more than 4 or 5 people doing so in the small press room at the BEA].
The NATPE convention is widely …