The ‘Minority Report’ user interface is here


The film Minority Report featured a user interface in which Tom Cruise’s character controlled computer screens and information using gestures, while wearing special gloves.

This was at the time the best representation of what I have long thought was a natural and inevitable direction for user interfaces. I’ve written about the shift to richer computer interfaces extensively over the years, including featuring Interfaces as one of the three technologies that will bring the networks to life in Chapter 2 of my 2002 book Living Networks, describing New Interfaces as one of the Six Trends that are transforming Living Online, and looking at the future of interfaces in mobile and home environments in the Future of the Media Lifecycle framework.

The film below shows the ‘g-speak’ technology in use. This is still transitional technology that will lead to broadly-used commercial applications, but definitely shows where things are heading.

g-speak overview 1828121108 from john underkoffler on Vimeo.

Thanks to Engadget.

Seth Godin says write so it couldn’t be any shorter


Hugh MacLeod has published a delightful interview with Seth Godin on the launch of his new book Tribes.

A couple of excerpts that particularly struck me:

Your books and blog posts seem to have one thing in common, they seem to be getting shorter and shorter with every passing year. I have no problem with that; I think people genuinely prefer short reads to long ones. For people aspiring to publish their own books one day, what advice would you give them re. deciding on a book’s length?

Try to write a book or a blog post that can’t possibly be any shorter than it is.

Yes, very well put. That is the discipline we all must have today. As attention is spread ever more thinly, there is no luxury for padded content.

You’ve been publishing your books for about a decade now. Obviously, in that time period there’s been a lot of changes in the world. But for the sake of simplicity, let’s narrow the field down a bit, to the “Purple Cow”, new-marketing world you’ve been happily residing in. What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in this brave new world, since Purple Cow and IdeaVirus first hit the bookstores?

There’s no doubt that the biggest change is that most smart people now realize that the world has changed.

When I started, I was working in a status quo, static world, where the future was expected to be just like the past, but a little sleeker.

Now, chaos is the new normal. That makes it easier to sell an idea but a lot harder to sound like a crackpot.

Yes again. I think we almost all find it hard to comprehend quite how much business has changed over the last 10 years. We now live in a very. very different world, and just about everyone at least implicitly recognises it. Almost all the change for the good, I think.

The critical role of portable large screen devices in enabling mobile media


Michael Arrington of Techcrunch has just announced that they are trying to create the specifications to build a tablet computer primarily for web browsing for $200. The intention is to design it, then open source the design and software so anyone can build it, thus making an inexpensive web tablet available to many. More background from Nik Cubrilovic.

This directly addresses one of the key points in our Future of the Media Lifecycle framework, illustrated below (full explanation at the link).

Media Lifecycle Framework

The development of mobile media requires rich media devices. These come in two forms: handheld and portable. The iPhone and its emerging competitors have finally created a handheld interface which is a true media device that will encourage people to engage in a wide range of media consumption and creation activities. However there is still an important role for portable devices, that can’t be put in a pocket. While I’m a strong believer in the role of video glasses and similar interfaces that allow a handheld device to provide a wide visual screen, the reality is that in most cases people will want a normal flat screen. Before long rollable and foldable screens will fulfil this role. In the meantime a flat screen is both available, and will long have a cost advantage over e-paper-based screens. Laptops have a place, but have long boot times and are over-specified. eBooks will also be important, though are currently fairly application specific. A web tablet as described by Arrington would neatly fill an important space in having an inexpensive, flexible portable media device that will facilitate accessing the personal cloud that will be at the center of our lives.

On another level, this is a great example of open source innovation, in which consumers define what they want, create the model, and by making the design open source, ensure the product is commoditized and low cost. The highest value part of the process is performed by the customers, not the vendors.

Quick review of social media coverage of Future of Media Summit


I’ll do some more detailed reflections on the Future of Media Summit tomorrow. I’m just about to fall over after a very long day, but thought I’d post a few important social media references and commentary on the event.

First stopping point has to be the Future of Media Summit Blog, where participants have been busily posting all day, notably:

Participant roundtables in Sydney:

Mobile Media and Content

Future of Media and Television

Flow Economy/ Media Strategy Workshop in Silicon Valley:



Reviews of panel discussions:

Global Media Strategies – 1

Global Media Strategies – 2

CEO Panel – 1

CEO Panel – 2

Future of TV and video – by Mark Pesce 1

Future of TV and video – by Mark Pesce 2

Future of Privacy and Targeted Advertising

Future of Journalism (Sydney)

Unconference sessions:

New Media – 1

New Media – 2

Twitter comments:

See the Summize search for Twitters with the #fom08 tag – literally hundreds of Twitters from attendees at the Future of Media Summit (which included a Twitter 101 session during the Unconference session in Sydney).

Live video:

The Ustream video from Phil Morle

All this will give you a good feel for the event from the perspective of participants. I’ll provide some of my thoughts soon.

In previous years the Summit blog has continued to be active for quite a while after the event as discussions continue online – hopefully this will be the case this year too! Subscribe to the blog to keep up with the conversation.

Metarand: Podcast interview on the future of media and the value of frameworks…


Rand Leeb-du-Toit, the indefatigable entrepreneur and social media evangelist, is very consistently producing interesting insights on the emerging tech landscape at his blog Metarand – well worth a look or subscribe!

Last week Rand interviewed me for a podcast – go to the post to listen to the interview. We primarily discussed my thoughts leading into the Future of Media Summit, looking at the broad landscape of what’s happening in the media landscape.

What I like most about being interviewed is that I often learn from my own answers. Rand wrote:

The biggest takeout: he uses frameworks to synthesize his pattern recognition and as a communication tool for exploring trends and the potential paths we will follow in the future.

I am very frequently asked how I keep on top of so much information and make sense of it. It was only when Rand asked the question of how I go about ‘pattern recognition’ that I realized how central is the role of the frameworks I create, which are as much for myself as for others. Of the collection of frameworks in the Future of Media Report 2008, released last week, unquestionably my favorite is the Future of the Media Lifecycle framework, which pulled together many of the loose thoughts floating around in my head.

Future of Media Drinks in Sydney tomorrow – all welcome!


After the Future of Media Summit in Sydney tomorrow speakers and participants will be gathering at the Firehouse in North Sydney from 5:30pm for drinks and general post-event conviviality. We’ve simply named it as a spot for all to gather to grab a drink, so anyone is welcome to turn up, irrespective of whether they’ve attended the Summit or not.

Venue details and directions are here.

I will be in Silicon Valley for the US side of the event and long since in bed after a long day, so will miss out on all the fun, but the Future of Media Summit Sydney Chair, Jenny Williams of Ideagarden, and Jessica Hough and Julian Hill from Future Exploration Network will be there to welcome you and say hi. Pass on word to whoever you wish. Have a great time if you make it along! I’ll hear all about it afterwards…

Montage of recent media coverage


We recently created a montage of some of my recent television, newspaper, and magazine coverage. This was created primarily for the dozen or more Australian speaking bureaux I work with. The majority of my Australian, US, and global speaking work comes to me directly, but that is complemented by work that comes in from a range of speaking bureaux in Australia. I provide them with material regularly to keep them and their clients informed of what I’m up to.

Click here or on the images below to download the montage pdf (2MB). It includes most of the text of a few interesting articles, such as my predictions for the future of home and immersive technologies, and thoughts on the media landscape in 2020. The robot pets TV interview is also up – I’ll try to get some other recent TV interviews up on the blog soon.



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Laurie Lock Lee on Governance in an Networked World


Laurie Lock Lee is one of the top practitioners globally in network thinking. I first came across his work in the mid-1990s, when he was one of the first people in world applying social network analysis approaches to organizations, for his then-employer BHP. He moved to CSC with the acquisition of BHP’s technology group, and last year set up his own firm Optimice with Cai Kjaer. I have featured some of Laurie’s work in the last two Future of Media Reports, including a high-level view of media industry networks, and a detailed analysis of the impact of a large acquisition on the Australian media industry landscape. Many other great reports and industry network maps are available from the Optimice website.

Laurie has just launched a new blog on Governance in a Networked World. He notes that it’s important to find the right scope and topic for a blog, and I think this is a fantastic one. As I wrote in releasing Chapter 3 of Living Networks, governance is perhaps the most important perspective on how organizations need to deal with a networked world. There are certainly risks to be understood and dealt with, but there are also opportunities that must be recognized and addressed. Business and government leaders are abrogating their responsibilities if they do not engage with the issues raised by our hyperconnected, networked world. Laurie says on his inaugural post:

Now to the governance bit. The old conglomerates grew up in an era when hierarchical control was the order of the day. Decision making necessarily travelled up and down the chain of command. Governance was all “top down”. Today many of the conglomerates have largely disappeared. Organisational structures have been flattened to facilitate agility and faster decision making. And governance systems have done what? Have they changed substantially at all? The focus is still top down control. The expectation is that senior management can “control” everything. In my view the networked business environment has worked against senior management’s ability to “control” the business. I believe the paradigm has shifted from one of “control” to one of “influence”. Until governance mechanisms are adapted to this change I believe they will continue to add cost and reduce value to the very organisations that they are trying to help.

I look forward to Laurie’s insights on his blog.

The joys of self-employment: 7 reasons to love being your own boss


This is a significant marking point in my life. I have been self-employed for as long as I was employed, making it 12 years of each. From my first day of employment, I always knew that I would eventually work for myself. I was surprised that it took as long as it did to escape. In fact, when I was working in Tokyo for Thomson Financial in the early 1990s I had firm plans to resign and live in Hong Kong or Macau, working as a freelance journalist covering the region. Then a girlfriend and a series of promotions made me feel there was no rush to leave, and I ended up being transferred to London into a job as Global Director – Capital Markets. This gave me some great senior corporate experience that I would never have got if had gone solo earlier. However it didn’t take too long to reach the point when I was ready to resign and throw myself out into the Big Wide World. The day after I finished at Thomson in April 1996 I boarded a flight to Rio de Janeiro as the first stop on six months travels through the Americas. I had thought that as I traveled I’d think about what sort of business I’d start. I didn’t have time for that on my adventures, only seriously considering what I wanted to do once I arrived back in Sydney after six years overseas.

It was very tough going for a long time, particularly trying to build global work based out of Sydney, but the success of my books really made the difference, and just around now – after many years of hard slog – things are panning out the way I always envisioned. This suggests to me that they have a fair bit further to go yet – time will tell.

When I left work I was completely committed to working for myself and controlling my own destiny. From the beginning I didn’t ever consider taking external capital, because I felt it would make me beholden to someone else. In the near future I will be looking for external capital for a new venture, but it’s not one in which I will be a full-time executive. If I ever sell a company, I’m not going to with the company as part of the sale. When things were difficult for me in the early days, my worst nightmare was that I would have to get a job – that was something that I would do anything to avoid.

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Interview: The future of media and entertainment in 2020


Today’s issue of The Australian has a special section on the media industry in 2020, to coincide with the Australian government’s 2020 Summit to be held this weekend. I was interviewed for a feature article titled Watch this space as sector goes on move (together with a nice pic of me in the print edition). The article follows:

AUSTRALIANS will double their spending on media and other entertainment by 2020 as the proportion of people’s income spent on “weightless” products and services increases, according to futurist Ross Dawson.

Mr Dawson predicted the media and entertainment industry would double in size during the next 12 years and have a 60per cent larger share of the global economy than at present.

“One of the things (that) is going to grow rapidly is the way we consume media … when we’re moving around,” Mr Dawson said. “The weight of goods produced in the global economy, while it doubles in size, will stay the same.”

Mr Dawson, chairman of the Future Exploration Network, which takes the pulse of the global industry in an annual study, said the media would offer “infinite choice” for consumers by 2020.

In a wide-ranging interview about the changing media landscape ahead of the Government’s 2020 Summit, he predicted:

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