24 Jan 2007

Spirit of the Age

We're well into January now, but I don't ever remember feeling quite so overwhelmed predictions for year ahead. They've been bombarding me from all sides - TV,radio, newspapers, and from a fair proportion of the web sites I cruise on a regular basis. Such is the volume of future gazing activity that mostly everything has been covered - from what we'll be eating and wearing, to the media we'll be captivated by, the technology that will change our lives and the global phenomena that are likely to enter our already stretched consciousness as the months roll on. . .

That's not to mention the rafts of predictions regarding life, love and happiness peddled by glossy (and downright) tatty magazines.

So what's the fascination with trend prediction? And should we be taking any notice?

As life - particularly in business - continues to speed up, it's unsurprising that steeling a march on the competition has become a race more fiercely fought than ever before. Little wonder then that most clued-up companies are keenly scanning their markets for emerging trends in customer behavior - so they can move faster, innovate in the right areas and be positioned not just to respond to demand - but to play the covetted role in creating it. This drive (or paranoia) undoubtedly funds a wealth of highly credible 'Predictions' reports from the big global consultancies, media providers and their associated entourages.

Looking at this high-brow and informative stuff, you could be mistaken for thinking that predictions are the preserve of braniac analysts and statistical wizards - but on further investigation, it seems this need not be the case.

Whilst there will always be a place for well-researched, statistically valid trend analysis and prediction - the web now provides some rudimentary tools that make armchair trendspotting a reality for your average Joe (and Joanna).

Take a look at the Google Zeitgeist review of 2006 and you get an insight into the power of Google. Not only does Google deliver information to the information hungry masses with speed and simplicity that is pulling c1 billion search requests daily, but the guys at Google are also building an arsenal of consumer insight that is likely to remain unrivaled - in the near future at least. As if this wasn't enough, Google also distill the spirit of the age down into a easily quaffable monthly shots - meaning you and I can take a regular look at what's occupying the collective consciousness of countries all over the world.

Given tools like these - and the access to ideas enabled by the power of the giant search engines - anyone with half a mind, a dose of intuition and a good measure of common sense can synthesise their own predictions for the year ahead. These thoughts may score low for originality, but will be high on interest if January's media is anything to go by. And then there's the added bonus (once you've committed your predictions to hard or soft copy) of feeling entirely smug if you're proven to be a zeitgeist master, once the new year hangover has worn off NEXT year.

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