Thoughts on The Future – The Series

Thoughts on The Future – The Series

As a consultant, I am frequently asked to share my opinions on the future of technology & innovation. Typically, this is on a micro level, in context to the needs of a particular client, project, industry or use case.

As is the way with consultants, many of these ideas end up buried in a Powerpoint or research document, never to see the light of day again, once the project is over. 

What I feel has been lacking is a larger overview of my thoughts. Some way to get a bigger picture, based on all of the various projects, clients and industries I have been involved with over the course of my career. Some place to document & reference should ideas become reality, or should things change.

I had considered writing book about the future (I still have a lot of books planned) but like most tech related nonfiction books, they take time to write and once published, their information can quickly become dated or irrelevant. A book about the future becomes the present, then the past, very quickly…

The Goal:

My goal is to write a multi-part series of interconnected blog posts about the future, where I touch on  different topics. Some lengthy, some short. I’m just going to wing it and see where it goes.

If it eventually turns into a book, so be it. If not, the important thing is that I share ideas in small bursts when I think of them, as opposed to letting them ferment in the back of my mind, useless to the world.

The hope with this series is to both keep these ideas fresh, to inspire new ideas and discussion. At the very least, it will serve as a reference point to look back on and reflect.

Admittedly, this will include a lot of free flowing ideas that might stray off into sci-fi at times, however I feel that based on a lot of current events, a lot of what I write will happen. I’m usually right on a lot of things…

With that being said, I will list all entries below and eventually collect them all on their own page. I will definitely be asking for opinions, so PLEASE feel free to leave comments, share feedback and let me know your thoughts.

Enjoy & see you in the future. (See Below for all the latest posts!)

Thoughts On The Future:

Thoughts on The Future – #1 The Internet of Everything
More coming soon…

Attention Authors! A Digital Call to Arms

Attention Authors! A Digital Call to Arms

Writers, authors and publishers have been influencing technology and culture since the written word was invented. I am constantly reminded of this every day on my commute to work, when my train crosses over the river and passes thought Mainz Germany, which is the birthplace of Johannes Gutenberg, the father of the movable type printing press.

This invention was one of the key catalysts for starting the Renaissance and the scientific revolution. It’s creation occurred over 500 years ago, and yet I am shocked and amazed when I think of all of the revolutionary events that have occurred because of it, just in the span of my lifetime.

In the past few years we have experienced a new renaissance of sorts, in the growth of ebooks, ebook sales, ereader devices and the self publishing industry.

It is now possible for an author to write, self publish and sell their own books online, literally from a mobile device and are able to make a decent living from it. Some are making millions from it.

The Good News

The good news is, that no longer are we restricted to having to rely entirely on a publishing company as a gatekeeper to successfully promote and sell our books.

We have reached a point where the same promotional, printing, sales and distribution capabilities, once only available to major publishing companies are becoming available to everyone. These tools are free and easily accessible online, which is also, I might add, where the readers are browsing and doing a majority of their shopping.

The Bad News

The bad news is just that. The old ways of browsing for new books in the book stores are rapidly disappearing as major brick and mortar stores are losing out to digital and going out of business. Ebooks are now outselling print books (according to Amazon) and as a result, the majority of the promotional focus is now done online.

The new prime time is no longer sitting around the TV at night with the family or reading the newspaper. It is now online, on the mobile devices, on your Facebook wall, in the blogs and in the apps. If you want to market a product successfully, these new mediums are where you now have to target.

To add to this growing pressure to adapt to all of these changes, consider this:

According to a recent article on Smashing Magazine:

“…if you recorded all human communication from the dawn of time to 2003, it’d take up about 5 billion gigabytes of storage space. Now we’re creating that much data every two days.”

What this means is we are in the middle of an exponential growth curve of garbage content production. People are writing and publishing in droves and without publishers and editors to filter it, “most” of it is pretty bad. Without the help of contextual platforms such as Google, Apple’s Siri, Facebook, and other upcoming services that help to push you relevant information based on your interests, it will soon become impossible to separate the cream from the crap.

As a result, people will continue to rely on these filters to insure that they are receiving relevant content and the ability of authors and writers to stay on the good side of these filters, will require considerable focus on tech and networking.

Welcome To The World of The New Digital Author

Because of all of these changes and challenges, authors are now facing the paradox of both the incredible freedom to control their financial destinies, but also the pressure to adapt, learn and add a whole new mandatory layer of tech, marketing and promotional skills to their toolbox.

It is no longer just a matter of being a good writer these days. In order to stay competitive and earn a decent living as a writer, artist, musician, or any other type of creative profession for that matter, you have to start thinking strategically and you have to think digitally.

Unless you polish your online marketing skills and learn how to compete strategically by making your quality writing, books and products stand out from the masses and index in these new contextual search engines, you will be buried.

Selling digital content is a whole new ballgame. (Just ask the musicians and porn producers!) It requires a digital marketing strategy, an author platform, a mechanism for traffic, discovery, research, lead capture, sales, communication and networking and as a result, an overarching understanding of all the complexities involved. Now, more so than ever, because of the highly competitive ebook prices, it also requires a major focus on the backend strategy and the upsell.

The reality is, if you want to make a living as a writer, you now need a hybrid of BOTH mad writing skills AND ninja digital marketing skills. It is not just a luxury anymore. It is a necessity.

Start Now!

Should you be blogging, using social media, building a platform, and digitizing your work? The answer is YES to all of it. It has been for some time now. It is a moot point.

Sure this is a lot to learn, and I definitely suggest moderation, but just get started. Learn something. Take action and do it NOW!

Summary

To summarize, there are a ton of new opportunities for authors for selling and promoting their work, however the down side is that people are jumping on the bandwagon in droves. If you want to stay competitive you need digital marketing skills and you need to start developing them now.

Let me say before I close that I can’t predict the future. In many ways I feel we are reaching a critical mass. I have fears for authors, both published and self published in regards to their means of rising above the noise and growing and maintaining a large enough fan base to be able to make a decent living selling their work.

On one hand, I am full of doom and gloom for the industry. On another hand, part of me is screaming RELAX! Just write good stuff and people will follow.

I think it is a little of both. We need to put continued focus on writing great stuff, however we also need to have the skills to stay in the game or else things will be getting very difficult for authors very quickly.

What are your thoughts on the future of publishing? Do you have a digital strategy? If so, I would love to hear about it.

Old Dreams, New Goals, A New Direction and a LOT to Explore

Old Dreams, New Goals, A New Direction and a LOT to Explore

When I was young, I can remember having some sort of dream or daydream about where I would be when I got older.

From what I can remember, the picture in my head is just a scene of myself with a beautiful woman I was married to. We were walking hand and hand down a tree lined country lane, somewhere in Europe. It was autumn and I could clearly see the particles blowing around in the light of the sun, as it streaked through the trees. A dog ran by us and up the driveway to a beautiful stone country house with a red door and large arched windows. There was a red Karmann Ghia in the driveway, which is weird because I hate red cars and I hate old VW’s even more.

I’m not sure if I actually made this up or maybe I just saw an ad in some 70’s magazine with the photo, but the image still sticks with me and is crystal clear. Somehow I remember thinking, that’s me and this is where i’ll end up. When I think about what I did for a living, my first thought was an author, or a professor or maybe a scientist?

I write a lot about making plans and setting goals. My blog, for example,  plays a large part in achieving my goals, but I’ll admit that unfortunately it has suffered from a lack in focus for a long time now. It’s hard when you have so many scattered interests as I do, but at some point you have to stop the analysis paralysis and just focus.

Time to set a goal or set a dream and take action towards it.

(more…)

On Thinking INSIDE The Box

On Thinking INSIDE The Box

Thought for the Day: While innovative thinking is a much discussed, rare, valuable and sought after skill these days, sometimes thinking INSIDE the box can be the hardest thing to do.

My advice would be that before you go spending valuable time, energy, money and resources dreaming up some BIG idea and glorifying the need for “new, creative, crazy and innovative” make sure you first have a solid grasp of the “old, tried and true, reliable and predictable.” Chances are you haven’t even scratched the suface of what is right in your very own backyard.

  • What underutilized or untapped resources do you have hiding in the closet or right under your nose?
  • Who do you already know that you can ask to help you?
  • What can you do to make what you already have, even better?

I’d be willing to bet that you have way more options than you think.

New isn’t necessarily better. Sometimes the best new ideas are the old ones that are just reanalyzed and better thought through.

Welcome to the Collective

Welcome to the Collective

I like to collect things.

Throughout my entire life, I have always had some sort of collection going.  It started with comic books and Matchbox cars, then model rockets, then tropical fish, then action figures, then guitars, then mexican art, then books, then Harley Davidson t-shirts, the list goes on and on.

You see, much like squirrels instinctively hoard nuts and berries for the winter, humans have these instinctive, primal urges hard coded into our brains too. With us, however, it is a little more complex.

With the advent of 24 hour grocery stores and electricity, somewhere down the line, we stopped NEEDING to hunt and gather to survive, or collect pelts or the skulls of our enemies. (more…)

The World is Your Barista

The World is Your Barista

The key to getting what you want in life is a lot like going to the counter at Starbucks.

  • If you walk up and ask for a double, lowfat, pumpkin spice latte, you’ll get one.
  • Ask for a triple, grande, frappalapamochachino, you’ll get one.
  • If you just stand there looking at the cake pops with your mouth open and mutter ”I guess a coffee…??” Then you’ll probably get a plain old coffee. Even though you really wanted that cake pop.

My advice to you is to figure out exactly what you want and then just ask for the damn cake pop.

The world is your barista.

So, what is YOUR cake pop?