Marty McFly’s “Back to the Future” No Competition for the Real 2015

back-to-the-future-2Flying cars, hoverboards, double ties and fax machines everywhere – the 2015 of Marty McFly’s popular 1989 film Back to the Future II was overrun with high-tech gadgets and trends that, at the time, intrigued our minds and made us hungry for what was to come.

Flash forward more than 25 years, to the 2015 of today, and the scenery looks quite different – flying cars are still a fantasy, and, though a French artist created a hoverboard several years ago, the contraption doesn’t quite function like the hoverboard’s of Marty McFly’s future. Who wants to wear one tie, let alone two? And the fax machine’s fate was sealed with the introduction and proliferation of email.

Back to the Future II, and other futuristic movies like it, seek to depict emerging media and trends of a particular time period, fascinating us with their mysteriousness. But just as certain aspects of the film’s visionary future haven’t yet come to pass, others quickly went the way of the dinosaur, a huge testimony to the abruptly changing digital landscape of today’s world.

Defining Emerging Media & It’s Influence
In 2008, writer’s Dale Peskin and Andrew Nachison of IIP Digital described emerging media in such a way: “The relationship between traditional media and the public is changing, a trend these information professionals call “We Media.” This emergent journalistic process allows the Web’s social network to produce, analyze, and disseminate news and information to technologically interconnected publics unbounded by geography.”

Emerging media is anything innovative, interactive and dynamic. Digital T.V., social media, wearable technology, webcasting and smart phones would all fit under the umbrella of emerging media, among others.

Emerging media influence our lives on a daily basis – from the personalized Pandora station we’re listening to on our smart phones while connected to the Bluetooth in our cars, and the video we just shot, uploaded and shared with friends on Vine, to the T.V. show we’re interacting with in real-time through hashtags on Twitter, and the outfit we just chose to purchase based on the coupon we received by email or text after entering the brick-and-mortar store – emerging media is changing the way we interact with each other, but even more than that, it is changing the way we interact with brands and marketers. Here’s a great video from Ball State University that delves further into the definition of emerging media:

“Innovation in information technologies has thrust humankind into an era of democratic media in which almost everyone can have immediate access to news and information, and become creators and contributors in the journalistic enterprise.” – Peskin & Nachison, Emerging Media Reshape Global Society

The above quote reveals the importance of emerging media to our world today: It has changed – is changing – the way we consume and use information, and how we want to receive it. Marketers and content creators have a unique challenge – not just in understanding the way their key audiences are using emerging media – but how to stay on top of this constantly evolving landscape.

Trends to Watch in 2015
Just as the creators of Back to the Future II hypothesized the advancements in technology for their time period, each year, WebMedia Group publishes an annual report on emerging tech trends they predict should not be ignored. Their 2015 Annual Report includes some interesting scenarios, but here are just a few:

  1. Deep Learning – Artificially intelligent computers are now capable of “deep learning” using neural networks. For example, robots will eventually be able to recognize objects they haven’t seen before and navigate to new locations on their own. Chappie, is that you? Deep learning will intersect with numerous fields, aiding in manufacturing, medicine and retail, to name a few.
  2. Uber-like Services – With a $40 billion paper valuation, certain features of this simple app that connects passengers to drivers will be all the rage other businesses try to emulate.
  3. Data Privacy – With the rising popularity of new technologies – such as the FitBit, which collects data on users through a third-party analytics tool – coupled with continued data breaches, 2015 will see more demand for digital consent agreements and increased transparency.

Can you think of other emerging media upcoming in 2015 or on the horizon? Likewise, can you predict other types of media or trends that might just meet the same demise as the once trusty fax machine?

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