The big Jon Lebkowsky, contributor to the Well; prototypic on-line community asked me over lunch in Austin this summer;”how do you think social media has influenced the world?” I had not prepared for this, and had little time to reflect, so I instantly brainstormed: “the acceleration of ideas” Jon and Dave, his partner from Socialwebstrategies, both above 60, nodded their heads, reflected for a second and quickly moved onto the topics of the day, living proof that brain-agility has nothing to do with age.
The web 2.0 has made the exchange of ideas instantaneous. Technorati has indexed blogs since 2002 and in 2009 they had indexed 133.000.000 of them. 346.000.000 people are reading them. Still growing exponentially, imagine what this will be in a few decades. There was a blog-war during the Design-week in Milan 2008. designws committed to being the first, fastest and furious to blog. Milan 2009 was brought to your screen by web sneak preview, why bother going there when an army of bloggers can tell you everything before it even happened? Victor & Rolf skipped the Parisian fashion-week and showed their new collection exclusively to the on-line crowd. The Gucci fashion-show was instantly given commentary by crowd-twitter. We are all in-crowd now, instantaneously in- the-know.
The web 2.0 has democratized the creation of ideas, Creatives used to have exclusive access to creative tools; this gave them a competitive advantage. But the access to software has been democratized, Photoshop and render-tools such as Google Sketch-up have become free-ware and can be downloaded and used by everybody, even on your smart phone. How-to’s and libraries are shared freely in user-forums. The crowd has come one step closer to professionals.
Progress in IT has empowered users to perfect ideas. Many ideas that are being published on designer-blogs are really just ideas, not materialized yet. Artist impressions used to be sketchy, clearly communicating that they were just impressions. The renderings of today look better and more perfect than they ever could in reality. Impeccably attractive and slick. Technologic and mechanical impossibilities, defying laws of gravity and other natural laws. The visualization of dreams: This is the promised land of designer-paradise. These impressions are becoming a system of reference in itself; a new parallel reality. They raise our level of expectations for the real world. The real world must be as good as this. Our imagination gets saturated with these new ideas and impressions, on the day when they finally materialize; we are more bored than excited. The idea gets worn-out, out of fashion, before it was ever born. Crisis or not, a never build hotel in Dubia has left its mark already.
It’s not the first time in history that fiction turns out to be more interesting than reality. To be or not to be, is that the question still? It seems irrelevant nowadays.
Published in Philips Design New Value News in Feb 2010.