Digital media has not only seeped into nearly every part of our lives, it has become increasingly more mobile and social in recent years. During the X Media Lab: Global Media Ideas event in Sydney, Australia, which took place from June 8-10, the international community gathered to discuss the future of digital media and how they are contributing to this new world of opportunities. The digital media think-tanks and workshops pointed to smarter, faster, personal and more inclusive platforms and services for everyone to use. At the end of the conference, it was clear that revolutionary changes will take place in music, interaction design, and collaboration and connectivity, among other areas. –Corvida Raven
BEYOND THE MUSIC
“Music is the best way to sell other stuff,” says Ken Hertz, principal of Membrain. Despite many disruptions in the music industry, album sales rose to 330.6 million in 2011, a 1.3% increase over 2010. That’s not the only thing that’s rising.
The future of digital media will see new streams of revenue and business models for artists beyond selling music, especially where social networks are concerned. This can come in the form of venture investments, sponsored tweets, increased concert and merchandising sales, and even landing a gig as the creative director of a leading company.
INTERACTION & PLAY
Instead of the usual fixed models of interaction, digital media is moving to more behavioral models that fall under the scope of interaction design. “Interaction design designs for people’s behavior in order to provide a service for the way people wish to act,” says user experience specialist Steve Baty. Products like the iPod, Wii Fit, and Instagram are successful examples of how interaction design can engage consumers. This type of design doesn’t make assumptions, but meets people right where they are to understand who they are and why they’re doing what they do.
Happy Feet cowriter WarrenColeman makes a case for the growing relationship between play and storytelling. Playful activity is becoming an integral component of stories being told through digital media, which can inspire a bevy of user-generated content around one story. As the masses keep producing such inspiring content, there is a growing need for platforms and services that can instantly match content to viewers, align content with context, and display statistical and cultural correlations between different regions of the world such as Africa and Georgia, says Michael Naimark, a researcher and founding member of the Atari Research Lab, the Apple Multimedia Lab and Lucasfilm Interactive (now Lucas Arts).
COLLABORATION & CONNECTIVITY
The tides are certainly shifting in favor of collaboration and innovation. Gone will be the days of visiting museums and simply looking at art. For Helen Chen, founder and CEO of China’s Museum of Digital Arts, museums should aim to be an exchange platform between digital creative artists. CMoDA is currently hosting projects as intriguing and unusual as 3D printing. Unlike today’s museums, the majority of CMoDA’s exhibits invite audience participation in a creative and fun learning environment.
In addition, offline and online interactions will become more innovative. “Collective individualism gives communities a collective vision”, says Bonnie Shaw, director of strategy at iStrategyLabs, and there’s no better enabler of unlocking this potential of collaborative and collective experiences than from mobile devices. With shifts like this, developing markets have a chance at becoming the new laboratories for product innovation and export, which emerging markets business development leader Rajiv Prakash is working to make a reality.
LEARNING TO LISTEN
These are just a few key areas anyone looking to dive into digital media will need to be aware of and make room for in the future, especially where global impact and accessibility is concerned. Long gone are the days of making money first and then building a great product. As Ian Stewart, co-founder of Wired magazine, says “making money first then doing something interesting with it later is horribly outdated.” Instead of taking the trodden path of making money first then building a great product, Ian’s journey as an entrepreneur has led him to the realization that doing the opposite is better.
At the heart of it all is a genuine need and call for companies, businesses, and even artists, to listen and learn from their customer base, which I spoke about during my X Media Lab address. When rare and unique voices from the edges of networks and industries are able to sit at the table and partake in all of these conversations, listening can become constant and learning will be fast maximizing one’s ability to bring about rapid and innovative change.