Multi-screen Viewing and Transmedia Storytelling: How Marketers Will Turn Multiple Device Ownership into Brand Immersion

By Aaron Heinrich on April 30, 2014 | Permalink

There are two critical dynamics occurring today that will impact the way we consume and share content, and the way that content is presented: multi-screen viewing and transmedia storytelling. Both are challenging the entire concept of how we view “channels”, storytelling, and brand/consumer interactions.

Here are some insights that help make the point. A May 2012 study conducted by the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) of nearly 2000 US consumers over the age of 18 found that “52% report that it’s somewhat or very likely that they’re using another device while watching television.” That percentage rose to 60% of smartphone users and 65% of tablet owners. So the more screens a person owns the more likely they’re using one or more of those while watching TV.

Relaunch of Future Exploration Network

By Ross Dawson on November 18, 2013 | Permalink

We have recently completed a long-overdue relaunch of the website for Future Exploration Network. In many ways it is also a relaunch of the company.

Future Exploration Network was established in early 2006. The name says it all really: it is a network to explore the future.

Our first public venture was the Future of Media Summit 2006, the first conference ever held simultaneously in two continents, with live video and social media linking panel and audience conversations between Sydney and San Francisco, followed by other events around the future of work, organizations, and entrepreneurship.

Launch of Map of the Decade, ExaTrends of the Decade, and the Zeitgeist for 2011

By Ross Dawson on December 14, 2010 | Permalink

It is traditional at the turn of the year to look forward at what is to come.

We have crystallized our thinking on the year ahead and the decade of the 2010s in a new 3-page visual landscape.

You can download the pdf of the framework by clicking on any of the images. The full text of the ExaTrends and the Zeitgeist themes is below.

Note on ExaTrends: Given the exponential pace of change of today we are far beyond a world of MegaTrends. Exa is the prefix meaning 10 to the power of 18, following Mega, Giga, Tera, and Peta. As such Exa is Mega cubed.

Map of the Decade: 2010s


ExaTrends of the Decade

ExaTrendsof theDecade_500w.jpg

Zeitgeist 2011



More than ever before, we can transcend our human abilities. Traditional memory aids are supplemented by augmented reality glasses or contact lenses, thought interfaces allow us to control machines, exoskeletons give us superhuman power. Machines will not take over humanity… because they will be us.

Now that biological and genomic technologies are largely driven by information technologies, they are on the same exponential trajectory. Medicines personalized to the individual, genetic modification of our children, drugs to increase intelligence, and life extension will all become commonplace.

The divide between believers and dis-believers in climate change and the necessity for action is increasing. Beyond that, views on the potential of planetary engineering will cut to the heart of the divide on faith in or fear of technology, Whatever the meteorological data that emerges, it will tear us apart.

In a world of infinite information and diversity of opinion we will not drown, but harness our dormant potential to be more together than we are individually. Crowdsourcing platforms and aggregators of insight will be part of the planks that create the reality of a global brain, expressing our destiny.

Remix culture will surge, with everybody taking and jamming up slices of everything and anything to express themselves, while intellectual property law fails to keep pace. Every culture on the planet will reach everywhere – the only culture we will know is a global mashed-up emergent culture that changes by the minute.

Many developed nations will start hitting the wall in their ability to support their elderly. The contrast with the rapid growth of developing nations will bring into focus the turn in economic fortunes. The inevitable result is mass migration, licit or illicit.

The sheer weight of China’s burgeoning economy together with India’s rise will change the business world’s center of gravity. The Far East will fund the continued profligate spending of the West. The weightless economy based on innovation, media, and professional services will dominate growth.

The way we use energy will change faster than ever before in human history. Renewable energy sources, electric cars, and strict energy accounting, driven in part by carbon taxes on fossil fuels, will transform transportation and large chunks of the economy, faster than we currently imagine.

What we knew as media has exploded far beyond its traditional boundaries to encompass most social activity, how organizations function, and indeed the creation of almost all economic value. Even as newspaper extinction proceeds apace, the best media operators will thrive.

Every business and social activity is a form of media. Organizations are media entities, creating and disseminating messages to achieve their objectives. Our social lives are manifestations of media. As the physical economy is marginalized, media in a new and broader sense will encompass almost all economic value.

Talent is everywhere. As organizations shift to networks, transcending workplaces, success will be driven by how well they can attract the most talented, those who can choose where, how, and why they work. Real-time translation software will enable true multi-cultural teams. Wealth will flow to the talented, wherever they are.

Across communities, nations, and the world, there is a keen risk of increasing separation between those who have access to technology, tools, and basic needs, and those who do not. This is not inevitable. However it will require concerted action around the world to avoid an increasing schism between us.

By the end of this decade close to half the workforce will be working independently, often across national boundaries. Companies will function on social networks and gaming platforms, professionals will work for many clients, and many of today’s companies will be supplanted by networks of experts.

Emerging measures of reputation will shape business and society, providing increasingly accurate views of trustworthiness and credibility. They will enable far more efficient business, make dating easier, help to filter information overload, and allow no space for the dodgy to hide.

The 2002 book Living Networks described how the rise of a hyperconnected world is literally bringing to life the networks that connect us. Soon a profusion of billions of richly connected devices will together manifest behaviors beyond all expectations, evolving themselves and seeking beauty.


1. Networked or Not?
We are all facing a fundamental choice that will shape our lives. Many dive headlong into a world of always-on connection, open social networks, and oversharing. A few cry halt and choose to live only in the old world of tight-knit personal communication. The result is a divided society.

2. Debt Anxiety
With the global economy seemingly continually teetering on the verge of an abyss, few feel assured about the next few months, let alone beyond. Determined debt avoidance will push discount hunting and postponement of desire. Governments find that debt is the unavoidable elephant that is tramples on their best-laid plans.

3. Mobile Universe
We experience the explosive inflection point of almost everything we know shifting to mobile. The infinite resources of the web are used mainly on mobile devices, location-based services give us context whe’er we go, and printed newspapers and magazines are supplanted by the iPad. Our entire world will be wherever we are.

4. End of 9 to 5
Work has already moved far beyond the office. Organizations respond by offering flexibility to avoid traffic, pick up the kids, and manage personal affairs at work. The dramatic rise of global work means many have phone calls at odd hours or find their primary clients or suppliers in far-flung places. Work now transcends time.

5. Brands in the Blender
The time it takes for a powerful new brand to grow is the same it takes for an old brand to be trashed: next to no time. As reputation shifts from corporations to individuals, trying to keep control has the opposite effect. Chopping and remixing brand identity is better done by choice than by others.

6. Sensory Indulgence
With many of our basic desires assuaged, we are free to indulge our senses, exploring how richly we can taste, feel, hear, and see. Fine dining explodes as an affordable luxury, while we all become oenophiles. Sensory luxury at home as well as on excursions is a basic expectation.

7. Immersive Entertainment
Aldous Huxley’s vision of the ‘feelies’ is here, as we use surround sound, big screens, 3D, Kinect motion sensors, video glasses, augmented reality, haptic suits, and more to give us a complete experience of our entertainment. Any and all technology that immerses us in other worlds is taken up with alacrity.

8. Terror Tomorrow
With terror yesterday and terror tomorrow, the interregnum is more tedious than terrifying. The calls for personal freedom and inviolate junk rise. That is, until tomorrow becomes today, bringing additional control and surveillance to everyday life, and more pushback than last time.

9. Social News Curation
Who goes to the newspaper front page or 6pm news for their news fix? As more of us share what we like and who our friends are, individually curated news is at each of our fingertips. Web, tablets, and mobiles will offer us the all the news that fits who we are.

10. Wrath of Crowds
BP and Nestlé have experienced how global mobs can egg each other on and amplify their voices to ravage reputations. Across nations, politics is becoming more volatile, with missteps and mismatched moods crystallizing concerted opposition. The wrath of many will be expressed more powerfully than ever before.

11. Everyone Naked
WikiLeaks moving into the crosshairs marks the point when society becomes transparent. As individuals we are already scrutinized by marketers who know us better than we do. Corporations succeed governments in their fear of inner workings being unmasked. Many rail and flail but there is no going back.

Infographic: Used mobile phones yield 1000 times more gold than gold ore

By Ross Dawson on June 25, 2010 | Permalink

A couple of weeks ago I flew to Perth to participate in a scenario planning project for a mining company. As I struck up conversation with the person next to me, it turned out we would both be presenting and contributing to the same workshop. I was kicking off the two-day workshop with a broad presentation on the future of business, while Damien Giurco, Research Director at University of Technology Sydney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures, would speak later on ‘Cities as the mines of the future’.
Damien showed me their excellent report Peak Minerals in Australia, which provides an in-depth analysis of the state and implications of peak minerals. One of the data points quoted in the report was fascinating: used mobile phones yield 1000 times as much gold as gold ore. I thought it was worth creating an infographic to bring the point home – click on the image to download a large version of the infographic.


In short: make sure you recycle your mobile phone!

Creating the Future of Media: 4 Driving Forces, 4 Strategic Issues, 4 Essential Capabilities

By Ross Dawson on December 18, 2009 | Permalink

I very rarely find the time to write magazine articles, but I was delighted to write the opening feature article for MediaTitles 2010, an annual publication which covers the media and magazine industry.
To see the article in the full splendor of the print version, go to the MediaTitles website, which has the full publication viewable using Realview Technologies (with the article reformatted to take out the lists of four, which I think is a pity). My article is on pages 7-10.
The (original) text of the article is below.
These are the best of times, these are the worst of times. The global economic crisis, coming on top of a dramatic transformation wrought by the rise of the Internet, is creating the swiftest change in media industry structure ever experienced. Newspapers and magazines are being shut down at an extraordinary pace all over the world, journalists are losing their jobs, and broadcast media are under threat as sliding advertising revenue hit an unmoving cost base. Yet as the world shifts towards what will be truly an all-encompassing media economy, there are extraordinary opportunities ahead for media organisations.
This is a critical juncture to examine the future of media. Magazines have and will continue to be central to how we learn, socialise, entertain ourselves, and make buying decisions. Yet the magazine industry will undoubtedly look very different scant years ahead. It is our role and responsibility to create the future of media, rather than to let it happen to us. To do that, we need to examine the most central driving forces, strategic issues and capabilities in the evolving media landscape.
Four Driving Forces


Case study: hitting the Billboard charts by free online streaming of the album

By Ross Dawson on September 24, 2009 | Permalink

I notice that Imogen Heap is continuing with the free streaming of her album Ellipse . And no doubt significantly because of the free streaming, Ellipse is charting at #5 on Billboard. It is a glorious album, though I think we can pretty definitely count the free streaming of the album on the web as a very effective strategy. Perhaps it will become commonplace to stream music for free in order to maximize sales.
I’d be keen to know the proportion of sales of this album and the songs on it online versus through CD. It would almost be surprising if she sold much in CDs at all, because her presence is so online..
I notice Imogen on Twitter now has over a million followers.
A bit tangentially, I just found this beautiful video of a beautiful song by Kate Havnevik, who I found through collaborative filtering and Imogen’s music. If you like Imogen you’ll absolutely like the extraordinary Kate. (note that it doesn’t start for 10 seconds)

ABC Radio National: Discussion on the future of influence

By Ross Dawson on September 17, 2009 | Permalink

ABC Radio National Future Tense this morning featured a discussion on the future of influence (click here for the podcast of both the radio program, and the unabridged discussion between Duncan Riley and myself). It kicks off with a quote from Chris Saad saying that influence and reputation are the currencies of the day, even more than attention.
When asked why we rebadged Future of Media Summit as Future of Influence Summit this year, I explained why “influence is the future of media”, and the five key trends in how influence is transforming society.
Duncan pointed to how the rise of Internet and social media means that influence can now be global. He also raised the issue of trust agents, and what it takes to be trusted as a publisher. We have more choice in what we look for, and so we need markers of credibility.
On the topic of business models for influence, I talked about two key ideas. The first is whether and how individuals can profit from their influence, and how that will develop. The second is the emergence of influence as a currency, and the companies that profiting from making influence explicit for companies.
Listen to the long version of the interview for more details.

The future of social networks and television distribution channels

By Ross Dawson on September 15, 2009 | Permalink

Last weekend’s Sunday Telegraph published an article titled Tech to the future that looks at what’s coming next in consumer and social technologies. Unfortunately it isn’t available online, however here are the sections where I was quoted:

Futurist and author Ross Dawson says the next big shifts will pivot around how we connect to other people and “how we share the content of our lives with others. It’s all about the social use of technology.”

Analysts predict that rather than a new Twitter-styled platform emerging, social networks will move towards being meshed or interconnected. They say private and public data will blur together and an advanced version of the social networks of your choice will be your browser of entry point.

Now that we have as a society discovered sharing the content from our lives, the floodgates are open. Interoperability across social networks is evolving slowly, but is what we are coming to expect. Then later in the article:


The emergence of mobile augmented reality

By Ross Dawson on June 17, 2009 | Permalink

A new mobile app called Layar has been launched recently. It will initially only be available for Android, with the intent of getting it onto the iPhone 3G S as a priority. At this point it only functions in the Netherlands, but will be available in Germany, UK and US this year. The video below shows how it could work, giving an example of identifying vacant real estate simply by scanning around.

One of the phone features required for this app to run is the magnetometer (compass). This has been available on many Nokia and some other handsets for a while, and makes its iPhone debut with the 3G S. Magnetometers are actually very inexpensive, but allow a wealth of new mobile applications that depend on knowing which way the camera is oriented.
There is no question that augmented reality will be a key feature of our technological future, and clearly this will be primarily relevant when we are mobile. Annotation of our environment, including detailed information about its features, and particularly user-generated content, will be extremely useful as well as fun. The pervasive nature of the iPhone means this is the platform which is likely to popularize mobile augmented reality. Layar is a player and no doubt there will be more.
Additional commentary from TUAW, IntoMobile, ReadWriteWeb, AndroidGuys, and MacRumors.

Top Twitterers: US, Canada, Norway, Australia, UK, New Zealand

By Ross Dawson on June 14, 2009 | Permalink

Sysomos has just released extensive research on Twitter use, filled with all sorts of fascinating information, such as 72% of Twitter users have joined since the beginning of this year, 53% of Twitterers are women, and marketers are 50 times more likely than normal people to follow over 2000 people.
I am always interested in comparing countries, so I pulled out and analyzed their statistics on where Twitter users are located to calculate the proportion of the population that are use Twitter. I used the Sysomos data on Twitter usage, the ever-handy Nationmaster for population figures, and a combination of the recent combined with Sysomos data on recent growth, as well as our own estimates.
The US is in the lead, not surprisingly, though by a far lower margin than even just six month ago. The global growth of Twitter has accelerated recently, making usage in a number of other countries not far behind that of the US. The English speaking countries – Canada, Australia, UK and New Zealand – follow close behind, with Norway the stand-out in non-English speaking countries, together with the Netherlands and Sweden. The figures suggest Twitter is a truly niche interest in other countries, including France and Germany.