Trend Blend: 4 Infographics showing the major global trends

At the end of every year media call on futurists to ask them what to expect in coming years, reflecting the appetite from their audiences for future thinking. One of the best ways to feed this desire is with infographics, distilling ideas into an accessible visual representation.

For the last four years a Trend Blend has been produced to close out the year. Each year this has been driven by Richard Watson of NowandNext, with myself and Future Exploration Network participating in the creation of the first three of these.

Below is a compilation of the four Trend Blends. You will see some themes recurring, and other fresh trends emerging over the years. All are intended to be fun and provocative, used both for general entertainment and sometimes for stimulating new thinking in the course of more serious futures and strategy work.

Click on the maps to see the detailed versions.


Trend Blend 2007+ map

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The sexual life of ideas: flirtation, promiscuity, procreation, and seminal creativity but no virgin births

Here’s a brief excerpt from Chapter 1 of Living Networks on the sexual life of ideas – I’ve always had a good response to this and it remains a relevant metaphor 🙂

Ideas don’t like being alone. In fact they like copulating promiscuously with any other idea in sight. There is no such thing as a virgin birth in the world of ideas. Ideas are always born from other ideas: interacting, mating, and procreating. This often orgiastic coupling takes place in the fertile substrate which is the human mind. Our minds are hotbeds of unspeakable activities—ideas have a life of their own, but they need somewhere to carry on their flirtations and breeding.

In her book The Meme Machine, Susan Blackmore suggested that humans are purely and simply carriers for memes, which means ideas or behaviors that can be passed on to others. Our species has evolved to become a more refined vehicle for propagating ideas. One result is the desire to produce and consume mass media that seems so intrinsic to our race. Another is our drive to implement communication technologies, to engage more richly with others, and to publish on the Internet.

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The Social Internet: findings on how countries and regions engage differently with the web

One of the topics that interests me the most is the variety with how different countries and cultures engage with social media, so I was very please to see in the current issue of Harvard Business Review a great spread on Mapping the Social Internet. Click on the image below to see the central visualization of how countries engage differently on the web.


Source: Harvard Business Review

The axes of the chart are the portion of internet users who manage a social-network profile, and the portion of internet users who write a blog, a choice of dimensions which yields a few very interesting perspectives:

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Inmagic interview on Enterprise 2.0 and chance to win an Implementing Enterprise 2.0 report

‘Social Knowledge Network’ vendor Inmagic recently spoke to me for their interview series. Unfortunately there were problems with the audio recording, so they’ve provided a transcript of the interview on issues including uptake of Enterprise 2.0, the Enterprise 2.0 vendor landscape, the future of work, and what I enjoy about my own work.

The full interview is worth a read, but here is a quick excerpt. I recently wrote what turned out to be a very popular post on What Enterprise 2.0 means for the CIO and IT department offering six key issues. Inmagic took a couple of these points and discussed them on their blog. Here is the follow-up on that during the interview.

Janelle: I want to talk about your latest book, which is “Implementing Enterprise 2.0.” It’s something that we covered on our blog at Inmagic and there was an excerpt that you had on your blog where you talked about six implications of Enterprise 2.0 for IT. And a couple that drew our attention were your points about how it enables end users and how the requirements for IT security and archiving have gone up. Do you see either of these as an impediment to E2.0 adoption or do you think they are necessary ways to help organizations operate?

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Population growth, urbanization, and the future of regional centers

On the weekend Australia’s freshly minted Prime Minister Julia Gillard said “I don’t believe in a big Australia,” in an about face from her predecessor Kevin Rudd’s vision of strong population growth for the country.

As a futurist I have been increasingly drawn into this discussion, given that immigration is one of the most fundamental levers shaping the future of countries. I have discussed the coming rise of gerontocracy, the uncertainties in Australia’s demographic future, and was interviewed on the social impact of population growth in ABC TV’s special series on Australia’s future.

I was interviewed this morning about Gillard’s comment on ABC Ballarat, a town which is the hub of one of the largest regional centers in Australia. Non-urban regions have a particularly interesting perspective on population growth.

On the one hand, in the face of the inexorable global trend of urbanization, regional areas are consistently losing their youth and talent to the allure of cities. Concerted efforts are being made to revitalize the economies and culture of regions.

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A Declaration of Interdependence

A just got an email from Tiffany Schlain, who had just seen my post on how hyper-connectivity is literally bringing the networks to life. I know of Tiffany as the Founder of the very influential Webby Awards. What I didn’t know is that she is also a filmmaker. Tiffany pointed me to the film she’s currently working on: Connected: A Declaration of Interdependence. The awesome trailer is below – well worth watching. It simply poses the question we are all facing.

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

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!

Corporate Twittering increases consumer trust, but many don’t want companies to listen to them

A few days ago I asked the question How much do people want to know their conversations are being monitored?, given how brands such as Gatorade boast about how well they listen to online conversations. As it happens, someone has an answer.

Fleishman-Hillard has just released their Digital Influence Index report for 2010, with a wide range of interesting research and conclusions.


Source: Fleishman Hillard

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Why scenario thinking (more than scenario planning) is critical for executives today

I recently gave a presentation to the executive team of a major mining services company at their annual strategy offsite. As has been a frequent style of engagement for me this year, my role was to stimulate broader, longer-term thinking by talking about the future of business.

While I have been doing a range of scenario planning work recently, in this case I simply wanted to impress on the executives the importance of scenario thinking. I showed the following three slides to support my discussion of the issues.


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How much do people want to know their conversations are being monitored?

Here’s an interesting promotional video from Gatorade, which extols their ability to monitor social conversations, apparently using Radian6 and IBM technologies.

There are a number of basic messages in here, most obviously that anything you say about Gatorade will be heard and acted on, though also that your response to their promotions and campaigns will be monitored.

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