Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Web Secret 399: 20 predictions for the next 20 years (part 2)

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of their existence, Fast Company published an issue that reviewed both the most important events of the past 20 years and their 20 key predictions for the next 20.

Here is the second half of that list of predictions - condensed - which should be required reading for (let me think) EVERYONE.

11. Medical Training Will Be Rewritten. As our library of medical knowledge expands beyond any doctor’s ability to retain all that information, the doctors of the future will have to become data interpreters, tapping into Watson-like technical tools to both diagnose conditions and optimize treatments.

12. Human Empathy Will Be Central. As machine learning and artificial intelligence insinuate themselves more deeply into the workplace, the one arena that will never be usurped by technology is human-to-human communication.

13. Entrepreneurship Will Not Be for Everyone. Entrepreneurship is hard work that requires both high-intensity risk taking and a steel-stomach capacity for absorbing disappointment. Some people are psychologically suited for this roller coaster; many of us are not.

14. Bubbles Will Burst. There is always a bubble somewhere. Some investors will get burned; others will get rich. Which is which? We’ll know once it happens. When major bubbles burst, almost everyone is taken by surprise and even those who aren’t are generally upended nearly as much as the rest of us. What’s most important, is remaining adaptable: If the arena you’re involved in turns out to be a bubble, it will be time to change arenas.

15. Simple Will Be More Difficult. New technologies often rise on the promise of making everything simpler, better, and cheaper. Rarely do things remain simple for long. Consider the advertising marketplace, which once seemed pretty straightforward. Marketers can now target specific pools of customers and track their activity. There are more avenues for reaching customers than ever, and managing a variety of social, web, and mobile programs makes the old days of TV’s hegemony seem quaintly appealing. The industry will become more effective at targeting the right message to the right person in the right way, but it will also be more complex.

16. Cybersecurity Will Be Costly. Every company is a "tech company" today because we all use tech­nology to operate. The necessary corollary to this fact: We are all vulnerable to cyber­disruption, whether from hackers or our own or others’ incompetence. Every enterprise will need cyber­protection in ways that haven’t historically been budgeted for. Costs will rise. Count on it.

17. China and India Will Dominate. It has long been predicted that the "sleeping giants" China and India would awake to challenge U.S. and European economic dominance. In the past 20 years, the progression down this path has not been a straight line—but it has been un­deniable. The manifestations have been counterintuitive too: Apple is effectively a China-centered manufacturing giant with an American design and marketing arm. The impact of these rising economies will continue to deepen.

18. Food Will Be Healthier. It is undoubtedly true that we are more aware of what we are putting into our bodies than ever. Consumers are willing to pay for higher-quality products and, even more, to demand them. What once was luxury will, over time, become commonplace.

19. Cash Will Disappear. Electronic payments via phones and chips are the wave that will wash away the need for cash entirely.

20. We Will All Be Family. The ongoing wave of technological change will only draw us into closer proximity. It will be increasingly difficult to ignore the troubles in other parts of the globe, and we’ll have a vested interest in maintaining peace. Of these 20 items, this is the one with the largest measure of hope: that our increasing knowledge of and intimacy with one another leads to greater understanding and opportunity for all.

Think about it.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Web Secret 398: 20 predictions for the next 20 years (part 1)

Fast Company is a business magazine that focuses on innovation in technology, business, and design.

It's cool.

You feel cool when you read it.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of their existence, Fast Company published an issue that reviewed both the most important events of the past 20 years and their 20 key predictions for the next 20.

Here is the first half of that list of predictions - condensed - which should be required reading for (let me think) EVERYONE.

1. Speed Will Triumph. Speed is the most important business imperative. Constant iteration and redefinition are central features at businesses from Amazon to Google to Netflix, and every industry is now required to embrace that pace.

2. Mark Zuckerberg Will Lead. Now 31 years old, with nearly 1.5 billion customers across the globe, Zuckerberg has relentlessly improved himself as a businessperson and continues to be focused on learning. This psychological feature, along with the fact that he has a net worth north of $30 billion and a controlling stake in a world-spanning enterprise, virtually guarantees that he will be a bedrock figure in our economic and cultural evolution for decades to come.

3. Malala Will Build. After you’ve won a Nobel Peace Prize as a teenager, what’s next? Malala Yousafzai represents the leading edge of a cohort that is only just being unleashed: young talent growing up in obscure corners of the globe. This generation will increasingly have the tools and opportunity to redefine our world.

4. Elon Musk Will Inspire. Musk is a billionaire with powerful ideas. His latest tackles global climate change by addressing a seemingly modest deficiency "existing batteries suck." Musk not only wants to build a bigger business, he also wants to inspire us to address our biggest challenges.

5. Technology Will Improve the Human Condition. When you consider the long lens of history, technological advances have consistently improved people’s lives. Global life expectancy has climbed consistently over the centuries and in the past decade has improved for all regions of the world. That advance will continue unabated.

6. Digital Tools Will Unlock Opportunity. Inequality remains rampant across the United States and around the world. But rising mobile penetration offers the potential to shift that dynamic. The teachers and students of tomorrow will not be confined to classrooms, nor to the countries and cities that can afford them.

7. Democracy Will Be Digital. As a new generation of voters comes to the polls—a group raised on one-click purchases and instant access via apps—the traditional voting process will become untenable. New candidates will establish their credibility by extolling their technological sophistication, and e-voting will be everywhere.

8. Diversity Will Deepen. Those controlling the halls of power in business and government in the United States remain predominantly male and white. This will not persist as our population becomes more heterogeneous.

9. Mission Will Trump Money. Recent real-world studies have shown that having a purpose associated with work produces better performance than pure financial reward. The next generation of workers will expect to be engaged in their jobs through more than just financial means.

10. DNA Will Be Unstoppable. The decoding of the human genome has already launched a wave of new treatments and approaches. Inspiring as these examples are, though, the impact of genetic data is in its infancy.

Next week, get ready for 10 more predictions.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Web Secret 397: Calm

I don't think the world is nuttier today than it was a hundred years ago.

But advances in tech means we are far more aware of the craziness. In fact, unless you live off the grid, you have to make a conscious effort to tune out.

Here comes a cavalry of websites to rescue you: Center yourself with not only white noise, but pink and brown noise, as well. Whether you’re seeking sleep or a little bit of peace, this will be sure to help. Seek refuge in sound by immersing yourself in cascading raindrops and murmuring thunder. A natural and calming soundscape that will put you at ease. Clear your mind for a few seconds with a little pep talk and relaxation session. It's lovely. Raw, heartfelt, sentimental, and always touching, this website provides a series of anonymous notes featuring moments that gave people hope. My favorite: do nothing for two minutes while listening to the sound of waves.

Thank you buzzfeed for giving me the idea for this post.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Web Secret 396: What Makes It Great

Periodically I vow not to spend anymore time on Facebook.

Most of the posts are just drivel, interspersed with ads generated by an algorithm that purports to know what I'm going to buy next.

One particularly offensive one, urged me to consider the benefits of cremation versus interment.

The thing is, occasionally, and unpredictably, I come across something incredible on Facebook.

And I am sucked in all over again. As behavioral health professionals we all know the power of intermittent reinforcement...

So here are two powerful/interesting items I learned about on Facebook:

The first is a post by a woman called Genevieve V Georget that went viral.

One day, Genevieve entered a Starbucks. The barista made assumptions about her life, based on superficial information. She saw a prosperous, well dressed young woman on her way to Italy. And so the Starbucks employee, "wished me a nice trip. 'But then again', she said “why wouldn’t you…your life is golden!

This is the starting point of her essay about how little we know of one another's personal travails and demons in our 8 second attention span, solitary lives.

Genevieve proceeds to disclose some of her personal vulnerabilities and difficulties. And ends with a gift of exhortation for the reader.

Nothing special right? Been written about a thousand times. Ahh, but it's all in the recipe. Here is the oft quoted last section of the post:

"Scars tell stories. Scars mean survival. Scars mean you showed up for the fight instead of running from it.

And we’ve all got them…even the sweet girl serving my coffee. She’s fighting her own battle…defending her own front line…struggling in her own way.

And maybe it’s not about collecting gold stars for the perceived reality we give the world on Facebook…but it’s about the purple hearts we get for living bravely among the real one.

Because life requires guts…it requires bravery…and it requires vulnerability.

So, buy your coffee…wear your scars proudly…and carry on, dear soldier…

You’re not in this battle alone."

Here is my second Facebook find: Rob Kapilow is a world-renowned composer and conductor, and creator of the performance series, “What Makes It Great”, where he dissects, note by note, the hidden majesty within beautiful pieces of music. Sounds boring, right? It's not. It's enthralling.

Here is Rob analyzing Gershwin's "Summertime".

Handel's "Hallelujah" Chorus.

Irving Berlin's "Cheek to Cheek."

Like hearing them for the first time.