WIRED Intelligence Briefing

My esteemed colleague Mr. James Wheatley this morning attended the first of WIRED magazine’s Intelligence Briefings, where they aim to share some of the trends that they feel are going to be most impactful over the coming year.

He has identified the main ideas from their presentation, which I repost here:

A New Era of Etiquette:

Through social media our online reputations now require careful management. Our social profiles are available for numerous people to see, share and comment on – and there is an emerging importance on the etiquette attached to these public profiles.

The most important etiquette rules identified were: Always credit the work or links of others; Always be respectful even in disagreement; Companies can not pose as customers; You can ignore friend requests; Privacy must always be respected.

Social Networks have a Half-Life:

We’ve seen this from Friends Reunited, Bebo and Myspace – is Facebook in danger of having peaked already, or by allowing companies to come in and create widgets, will they be able to stay in the sun?

Google’s Achilles Heel:

Twitter has stepped ahead of Google with their developments in realtime search. Will Google be able to keep up and is this the first technological challenge to Google?

Individuals vs Corporations:

The internet has allowed new ways for individuals to organise outside of their organisations. Companies will be transformed as new generations of employees introduce expectations of transparency (think whistle blowing scandles, MP’s expenses, etc).

The Media are Becoming Unpoliceable:

With media consumption and production more liberated from geographic boundaries, attempts to monitor and control consumption will be increasingly difficult for UK regulators.

New Types of Abundance Require New Types of Scarcity:

With so much content now available online to users, attention from consumers is becoming a greater challenge and a scarce resource.

Watch Out, Sport:

First it was music and films, now “pirate” sports streams are on the rise – 27% of WIRED readers would consider illegally accessing a live broadcast of sport. Piracy normally grows due to high costs or lack of access – and sport ticks both those boxes.

Comments were that the Premier League in particular need to tie up their access via one central publisher/access point globally, and make access more affordable – otherwise pirate streams of premier league football will continue to thrive.

Nice one James, it sounds like it was really interesting session, and be sure to check back to see if any of my readers have any questions for you!

Quite an open format – their aim was to share some of the trends that they feel are going to be most impactful over the coming year. In typical WIRED fashion, everything is centred around fresh thinking and innovations rather than being market focussed, but still quite interesting. 

Have summarised the main trends below – I’ve got a handout if anyone wants to read anymore as well:
A new era of etiquette: Through social media our online reputations now require careful management. Our social profiles are available for numerous people to see, share and comment on – and there is an emerging importance on the etiquette attached to these public profiles. The most important etiquette rules identified were: Always credit the work or links of others; Always be respectful even in disagreement; Companies can not pose as customers; You can ignore friend requests; Privacy must always be respected.
Social Networks have a half-life: We’ve seen this from Friends Reunited, Bebo and Myspace – is Facebook in danger of having peaked already, or by allowing companies to come in and create widgets, will they be able to stay in the sun?
Google’s Achilles Heel: Twitter has stepped ahead of Google with their developments in realtime search. Will Google be able to keep up and is this the first technological challenge to Google?
Individuals vs Corporations: The internet has allowed new ways for individuals to organise outside of their organisations. Companies will be transformed as new generations of employees introduce expectations of transparency (think whistle blowing scandles, MP’s expenses, etc).
The Media are becoming unpoliceable: With media consumption and production more liberated from geographic boundaries, attempts to monitor and control consumption will be increasingly difficult for UK regulators.
New types of abundance require new types of scarcity: With so much content now available online to users, attention from consumers is becoming a greater challenge and a scarce resource.
Watch out sport: First it was music and films, now “pirate” sports streams are on the rise – 27% of WIRED readers would consider illegally accessing a live broadcast of sport. Piracy normally grows due to high costs or lack of access – and sport ticks both those boxes. Comments were that the Premier League in particular need to tie up their access via one central publisher / access point globally, and make access more affordable – otherwise pirate streams of premier league football will continue to thrive.

Applying Benjamin

AR technology grants virtual objects presence in physicality. This is a concept ripe with potential for academic study. Baudrillardian thought states that we would seek to assign these objects similar values to other, real world objects. The School of Economy offers the truth that scarcity creates value. Our physical, tangible world is finite, but The Virtual is infinite. Now, any object in space denies the opportunity for another object to exist there, however we know this not to be true in an Augmented Reality. I proffer that virtual objects taking up space in a finite world hold economic value, but Benjamin might argue against this view.

In his piece The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (1968) which was written in the thirties, Walter Benjamin argues that film and other ‘reproductive’ media diminished or destroyed the aura that had belonged to earlier art. As Bolter et al. (2006: 24) put it, “Aura belongs to works of art that are unique, as most art was before technologies of mechanical reproduction. Aura is the sense of the ‘here and now’ that each such work possesses because of its history of production and transmission. This uniqueness lends to each painting or sculpture a special quality, which can in turn evoke an attitude of reverence on the part of the viewer”. Benjamin (1968: 222-223) said that:

We define the aura as the unique phenomenon of a distance, however close it may be. If, while resting on a summer afternoon, you follow with your eyes a mountain range on the horizon or a branch which casts its shadow over you, you experience the aura of those mountains, of that branch.

Benjamin (1968: 222-223)

In this we see that Benjamin equates Aura with immediacy and the uniqueness of the moment of an artefact’s viewing. Since each moment is unique for each of us, it is economically valuable, auratic even. The information age of perfect digital reproduction does not detract from the personal uniqueness of experiential reality, only diminishes the aura offered by certain mass-produced elements within it. In Benjamin’s time, art was sanctified and extremely auratic. Now, most view classical art as a digital copy or encyclopaedia reference, which embodies little of the aura of the original piece. Travelling to the Louvre offers only the added auratic experience not gained from a home computer, where one’s experience is more like anybody else’s experience of the subject, but visitors must get very close to a works in order to experience what Aura remains there.

Benjamin might say that in a world of perfect digital reproduction, virtual objects can have no Aura. The Magic Lens is not spiritually void, however, and my Reality 2.0 is not a stagnant place. It buzzes with an aura of its own, borne from the uniqueness of each interaction, live and in context. A virtual object can be duplicated infinitely, but its location in space and the immediacy of its presence in that moment that helps shape its unique meaning for every AR denizen. Physicality offers the backdrop to the unique experiences offered by virtuality, indeed, experiential reality is improved through the wider opportunity for unique moments.

Returning to the economics of virtual space, virtual objects cannot hold currency in and of themselves, but the context surrounding them has value. Advertisers could exploit this if they act fast in commercialising AR space. More interesting to me is the potential for unique virtual art objects and sculptures that could hold purely aesthetic value. In this case, interested parties would seek out the object and view its intricacies and movements in the space it was designed to fill. There is much room for spatial enquiry in this field, some of which I will come onto in my next section.

Applying Benjamin