When I look ahead to what 2013 holds for the media industry, three trends stand out. First, the shift from presentation to participation means that the days of the Media Gods on Mt. Olympus telling us how things are have ended. People are tired of being talked to; they want to be talked with. Our new global conversation has allowed media to engage with readers in totally new ways. The success of brands in the future will depend upon understanding this new relationship.
If the first trend is a Garden of Eden blooming with engagement and self-expression, the second trend is the snake in the garden: The temptation to fetishize the social and viral for their own sake and lose ourselves in technology. Fortunately there is a powerful, countervailing force using technology to get away from technology, reflected in apps and features like Freedom, Do Not Disturb, and HuffPost’s GPS for the Soul—which we’ll be unveiling at CES in January. I realize there’s a paradox in the idea that an app can help deliver us from technology, but the solution to tech overload isn’t no technology, but better technology.
The third trend is the shift from searching for information to searching for meaning. People are using technology to connect with others not just around similar passions and interests, but around the causes and values that most resonate with them. And the shift isn’t confined to individuals. More and more, brands are identifying with a cause, and making that identification a central part of their ethos.
An understanding of these three trends can guide us to a place where we are more creative, more effective, more compassionate, and more capable of making things better for ourselves, for our brands, and for the world.