Ben Phillips and I looked into the murky crystal ball and pulled out eleven amazing trends/headlines/things that you will see in 2012.
1. The 1% fight back #occupycenterlink
2011 was dominated by the #occupywallstreet movement, and the 99% protesting against the gross inequality of wealth distribution in the western world. In 2012, the 1% will strike back. Expect a similar format of protest to what we saw in 2011, with a couple of minor variations. Whilst the disgruntled masses occupied the bastions of capitalism, the idle aristocracy will occupy benefit centres, fighting against the unjust support of the less well-heeled. In the #occupycenterlink movement, bankers, lawyers and other associated gentry will erect Gucci tents and don Ralph Lauren ponchos. Through Bose megaphones they will rally, arguing for a termination of the welfare state and a restoration of true laissez-faire economic policy. Whether this movement will generate the same momentum as its poorer counterpart remains to be seen.
In an attempt to leverage recent facial recognition patents, as well as digitally enabled voyeurism, Google will launch G-Stalker. The G-Stalker application enables a stalker to obtain every piece of information about someone that they are close enough to take a photo of. It works as such: the stalker sees an attractive woman sitting 15 yards away from him in a restaurant. He is old, recently divorced and sexually frustrated, so he pulls out his smart phone with a 10 megapixel camera and activates G-stalker. He holds the camera subtlety in the direction of the stalkee and waits for the patented facial recognition technology to do its magic. 5 seconds later, he has a name, phone number, address and a URL of every social networking site she belongs to. He leaves the restaurant, follows her on Twitter and mentally prepares himself to retweet even her most inane utterances in a feeble attempt to be noticed.
3. The demise of European fashion houses
High fashion has been criticised for many things over the years but none have managed to dent its allure to consumer hoards around the world. Times however, are changing. If the internet has taught us anything, it’s that allowing the masses to create is always a better option than reserving it for those who have spent years honing their craft. Enter Etsy. Etsy has proven that a talented, experienced fashion designer has nothing on your best friend’s sister who is in fashion school and is crocheting beanies in her free time. In what truly is a modern day peasant uprising, expect these Etsy queens and their unfortunate boyfriends to topple 1000 year old fashion houses with ill-conceived dresses, blazers and scarfs. A Louis Vuitton designer, whom asked to remain anonymous, recently told me “This is the Youtube of the fashion world. Unfortunately for us, people just want to look like depressed, malnourished hippies”. Expect high street retailers to adjust their procurement policies accordingly.
4. Social media sentiment monitoring replace the election process in France
The French election is coming up in 2012. Given the relatively poor voter turnout in previous years, I forecast that the traditional, antiquated voting process will be cancelled completely. In its place, social media monitoring firms, with their highly accurate sentiment analysis, will survey opinions of French citizens across social networks, blogs and other online forums. Citizens will be encouraged to express their opinions of candidates, and these opinions will be monitored and evaluated by the powers that be. At the conclusion of this process, the firms will deliver the results of the election and the government will take its rightful place. This anticipated development is perfectly aligned with one of the most observable behavioural trends of an election year: an explosion of ill-informed political experts using their personal social networks to push an agenda.
5. “Goldfish syndrome”
There are too many screens in our lives. Laptops, second monitors, iPhones, Blackberries, iPads, screens in retail, screens outside, TVs at home, TVs in our bedroom. The effect of this is that our concentration is being pulled from flashing screen to flashing screen more frequently than ever before, undermining our ability to actually think and function. We now no longer have the ability to concentrate on anything for more than 10 seconds at a time and given the continued explosion of multi-screen culture, I expect Goldfish syndrome to finally hit critical mass in 2012. The effects of this will be varied and profound; GDPs will further plummet as we aren’t able to concentrate on a single task for more than 10 seconds. A new range of mobile phone tariffs around 10 second conversations will be introduced, ensuring we never forget who we’re speaking to. Books will finally be killed off for good as no reader can focus on anything more than tweet length, reducing the need for paper and enabling a healthy regeneration of the Amazon. The sophistication of cars will grow significantly; this new intelligent vehicle will remind their driver every 10 seconds where they’re going and what they have to do there. Dystopian futurists will label this “the broken record society”, but this author can see a range of benefits, most notably a decline in anger and frustration because we can’t remember the origin of our misery. (side note: this paragraph took 2 weeks to write)
6. First person uses a QR code
In what will be seen as a massive coup for the QR Code community, in 2012 the first normal person will use a QR Code. Steve Stuart will be caught at a bus stop taking a photo of a QR Code for access to the BHS of The Hangover 3. QR Code fan boys will make this into an exciting case study video which will be RTed for dayzzzzzzzz and used to slam down the throats of marketers why their billboard needs a code innit.
7. Groupon to get out of debt crisis
Greece will become the first Government to turn to Groupon to help solve its debt crisis. The Government will look to sell off one of their greatest assets the Parthenon. Offering bricks that will last a lifetime over the group buying site. The bricks will be at the ridiculous reduced 90% off price for only 2 days only. This will be seen as the first step of the Greek Government to take control of their problems.
8. Head of Mobile, we were wrong not ‘The year of the mobile’
On December 31st 2012, Phillip MacPherson, Global Head of Mobile Development Foundation will come out with a statement apologising for inaccurate statements provided to the media in 2001, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011 which have all alluded to it being ‘The year of the Mobile’. ‘Clearly we have got it wrong the last few years, we got a little excited when the Nokia3310, WAP iPhone, iAd, all coming out and thought it was our time.’ However MacPherson still has high expectations that mobile advertising will leap frog urinal advertising as the 13th highest revenue media environment in 2013
9. Amazon launches Kindle Phone
Off the success of the Amazon Kindle, Amazon make their first play into the crowded mobile telecommunications space. ‘We really tapped into something with the Kindle, people just wanted a device that just did one thing, people just wanted to read books on it’ stated Adam Right, lead UX for Kindle Labs. 'Amazon have taken this strong insight and have applied it to a mobile device that simply just receive calls and texts. Get ready for the game changer.'
10. 'I hit my internet peak 10 years ago' - Prolific emailer
On the 10 year anniversary of Jerrod Leon registering the email address firstname.lastname@example.org, he finally admits that he may have hit his Internet peak 10 years ago. I am your classic middle aged guy reminiscing on the time he was QB for his High School Football team, only I hit it on the internet. I am on the down hill slope afterwards, I thought I might be able to replicate the Internet Greatness with getting Facebook url '/MarkZuckerbergsMum' but none of my mates laugh anymore and they are getting tired of me pulling out my business cards at bars trying to impress girls.
11. Buzzfeed, Home of LOLCats, Memes and Celebrity Gossip becomes the most influential site in the 2012 US Election
Oh shit that is actually happening.