Friday, July 02, 2010

What's going on in there?

I just found myself watching a skype-skype interview on mobile apps online while simultaneously watching Gok's Fashion Fix on mute on the TV. Yesterday I found myself reading two newspapers at the breakfast table. What is going on in my brain?

Am I so conditioned to multi-tab browsing? So used to reading emails as I talk on the phone? When did tweeting, facebooking and watching television become second nature?

I'm fascinated because if that's me - and at 26 I'm old in digital terms - what is going on with "the kids"? My boss recently found his two year old son - who, I hasten to add, cannot yet talk - watching iPhone videos of himself in one hand while playing on the iPad with his toes. And it really makes me realise - his approach to learning, multitasking and problem solving is going to be unrecognisable to his elders, to the people trying to teach him when he hits school.

This week I was lucky enough to be part of a panel on "How to... Be part of the next cool thing" as part of LCC's Futurising festival. After the panel Martin Raymond (The Future Laboratory), Jaana Jatyri (Trendstop), Maggie Norden (LCF) and I went for a coffee. We were all gobsmacked by the seeming lack of curiosity from the assembled graduate audience. How could they even consider a career in trend forecasting if they were not brimming with questions for the panel? Maggie, a lecturer, voiced her concerns at the total and utter lack of investigative nous amongst her students. While Martin said interns that limit their research to page one of the Google results don't stick around long at FL.

But I'm concerned we're looking at it from the wrong point of view. Our way of thinking, our way of finding stuff out, is not the future. The extinction signs are there and we should be warned - we already don't remember telephone numbers anymore or since when did you turn to an encyclopedia? My boss's two year old will one day need to be taught by someone who understands that his brain is going to be wired in a totally different way. He is going to have skills and abilities that were once rare, just as he will have blank spots where his father is an expert.

I'm looking forward to spending the next few months figuring out what this is going to mean for brands wanting to make products and services that will thrive in the hands of these "Digital Instinctives". But until then I'm off back to my work iPhone, my personal Nokia, my 7 open tabs on Firefox, my Spotify playlist, the rest of that vid and the last 10 minutes of Gok. Wild times.