I believe McLuhan was right and that we´re just starting to feel it. Since the interconnected electronic world became more or less open (and is still opening up) we get a medialized mental environment – on steroids. Memes swoosh over the world bashing into each other, from little short-lived and often bizarre memes to value-memes so large that we don´t really realize that we are immersed in them. Technological development keeps speeding up. Science finds new planets like earth, sends neutrinos faster than the speed of light and all of a sudden finds traces of the God particle. The global financial system is holding it´s breath. Everyday life, at least here in Sweden, goes on as ususal. Yet, the intuitives senses that their is something going on, something big. In absence of rational explanations and in the face of too much complexity the old myths are revived. The apocalypse is coming – either in the sense of violent purification or in the sense of a new enlightenment depending on the tastes and mood of the storytellers and their audiences.
The fairly newborn social web, that has already become a mainstream phenomenon over vast areas of the globe, is really vibrating with archetypal voices – jests are joking, kings and queens are reporting from court life and wise old men and women are explaining the now and prophesizing about the future. Tribes have since long settled their grounds in different parts of the Internet, the eggheads and adventurers even have started their own dark Internet. From there they are sometimes raiding the surrounding areas, but mostly they are just celebrating their own beliefs, heroes and traditions – uninterrupted from the neighbouring tribes as long as they stay logged on. Filter bubbles are swelling.
The mental and emotional side of reality seems to be swelling at the expense of the physical, at least for hundreds of millions of office workers all over the globe. The influx of news, gossip and far-away events that until just recently was portioned out at regular intervals over the course of day by mass media has almost without us reflecting upon it become an immersive strem from our mobile devices. We hear about a global industry now wiretapping our conversations and harvesting our digital footprints not only for the benefit of the good old marketing and consumer goods industries, but also for governments far off and at home.
Still, life goes on more or less like last year, and the year before, and the year before that here in Sweden. Another manufacturing company bit the dust and another web startup closed another multi-million dollar investment round.
My predictions for next year is that even more people will become active on the social web and act out even more of our human nature. When things happen in the offline world (and boy, things will happen the coming years) the mental and emotional online shockwave will increase even further. Not only the big stuff in our lives will continue to move online as we continue our migration there, but even more of our small stuff in life. What just a few years ago was experiments with new devices and online media made by a bunch of people obsessed by what´s next will surprisingly rapid become mainstream human behaviour. As it becomes easier and ever cheaper to micro-cast our lifestreams and thus project our personal identities and relate to our friends, families and increasing circles of aquaintances we will do so. If, or when, the economy and job market takes a serious dive entertainment, new opportunities and anxiety-killers will be readily available in our pockets and laptops putting is not in the end of a one-way communication channel serving us content, but in the middle of a vast and ever-moving web of real people serving us company.
It´s not the usual talking heads in the media we will be meeting. Rather, it will be our heads talking fuelled by the media. I believe it will be a very volatile experience, as the memes keep speeding up their massage of our electronically enhanced brains.
PS. In case I don´t make myself clear – it´s gonna be all about the mind from a technological point of view from now on.