- The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.
—William Gibson, quoted in The Economist, December 4, 2003
The question we need to ask ourselves about the future is not if it will be digital, there seems to be a unison agreement that it will – the question is what digital means? There are two scenarios:
- 1. In the future things stay the same. Digital is a platform and not more to it. Clients favor digital as a hub for their marketing and branding, but design, identities or advertising doesn’t change. Digital only means that the output will be on additional interactive surfaces of different sizes and for different situations.
Our knowledge and wisdom as we know it today stays untouched by the new digital stuff. The core principles of our disciplines remain the same. Scoping and designing an identity or unfolding a marketing campaign in 2014 is the same as in 2004.
Scenario one argues that you can digitize the hell out of anything you want to – but it doesn’t change the fact that design is design and advertising is advertising. Things stay the same and all digital does is ad more touch points.
2. The second scenario suggests a generational shift to how we think – brought on not by the digital platform, but by the abilities of digital that no longer remain niche, but become mainstream.
- The democratization of media has created thousands of media sources lead on by different channels and curators on youtube.com. TV is no longer linear to the mainstream – there are other ways of having choices made for you than relying solely The Head of Programming at a TV station. Communication is not necessarily about information, but just as much about activities. PR has become a software industry of systems, surveillance and technology, where talking to journalists have become niche replaced by the process of igniting ideas into communities, generating thousands of synchronous conversations. Design and identity has become a tool for product and services innovation rather than figuring out what logo, font or color scheme to apply.
2012 was a bubble. It was the last year of the first generation, where digital was designed to accommodate the old way of thinking about communication.
But by the beginning of 2013 this started to change. Business started to see the real impact of digital and implemented changes in everything from how they innovated and designed things, shipped them, retailed and marketed them – to consumers and collaborators. This effected how business is run and the role of marketing in business.
- In 2014 the Facebook timeline seems draconian and people laugh at how dehumanized Twitter was. Visually, content brands have disappeared from handsets, which are designed to create unified experiences from Nokia, Apple and Ericsson.
In this second scenario, do we still have the same communication disciplines, and how have each discipline changed? If you are in the design industry today – what will you be doing tomorrow?
Of course these two scenarios have been an exercise of the mind. But, which one of them is most likely to be true?