In 2013, I believe Mother Nature will prove to be a major source for disruption across a variety of industries, particularly telecommunication. I do not mean that in an apocalyptic sense at all, but more as a catalyst for innovation.
Over the past few years we have seen social media arise and begin to challenge traditional media. It wasn’t too long ago that most social media channels simply echoed events after they appeared on TV or were reported elsewhere. Over the past year, we have seen those tables turn with TV now echoing events that were first reported via social media. In fact, this change is happening so fast and to such a degree that it has become a common source of comedic fodder for Jon Stewart and the Daily Show. The desperate attempts of 24 hour news outlets to chase the faster, collective voice of social media has provided a wealth of comedy gold. Case studies of this abound from the new events of the Presidential Election to Superstorm Sandy.
Hurricane Sandy landed a painful blow to the densely populated Northeastern U.S. That one storm left sustained power outages, communication failures, and vast infrastructure damage. This large-scale tragedy affected — or even destroyed – lives, homes, communities and livelihoods. However, I believe there is a silver lining to such a massive natural disaster striking the East Coast’s tech/innovation center, New York City, in such a horrific way – new ways of dealing with such tragedies will be developed. 2013 will start harvesting ideas that promise to help people and communities become more resilient when facing such a large-scale tragedy in the future beginning with the taming and various mutations of social media.
Major social media channels such as Twitter are quickly flooded with so much data and redundant voices during events like Hurricane Sandy, that it is next to impossible to read the streams in real time, let alone make sense of the collective whole. People are forced into parsing all of this chatter in two ways: filtering the data crudely on their own (hashtags, their network, trusted sources, etc.), or watching CNN read their selected tweets to you. I believe Hurricane Sandy will be the catalyst that brings new services to light in 2013 that will tame the social media feeds. These services will take deluge of chatter and help parse that into your Headlines News dashboard to monitor situations like naturals disasters and other events.
Hurricane Sandy may force social media to mutate somewhat in 2013 as it is utilized as a replacement to by-gone forms of communication. I remember growing up along the gulf coast listening to the battery powered weather radio and the Emergency Broadcasting Casting notices it provided as we rode out hurricanes. How many people keep battery powered weather radios these days for severe weather? The internet of things and ubiquitous nature of smart phones has all but killed radios. Can Twitter become our new Emergency Broadcasting System? In 2013 we will see new services that use the social media networks to simulcast accurate information during extreme weather or events. There is no need to find a battery powered weather radio via candle light when almost everyone has a battery-powered, internet-connected computer in their pockets these days.
2013 will see the fruitful harvesting of the tragedies wrought by Mother Nature in 2012 as a host of new communication tools and services. Mother Nature will be the mother of invention.
Read more 2013 Predictions here.