Latest installment by the folks at Trendwatching, a group you must run, run, run out the cyber-door to catch up with: "Virtual Anthropology". A quick defintion, of sorts:
As consumers around the world pro-actively post, stream if not lead parts of their lives online, you (or your trend team) can now vicariously 'live' amongst them, at home, at work, out on the streets. From reading minute-by-minute online diaries or watching live webcam feeds, to diving into tens of millions of tagged pictures uploaded by Flickr-fueled members of GENERATION C in Mexico, Mauritius, Malaysia and dozens of other countries.
This part I love...and see immediate connection with this wild future of learning world I continue to chase:
Why now? Look no further than many of the consumer trends we've been discussing for the last two years, with at the core a massive shift from consumers being members of the audience to active participants. Consumer generated content and rampant collaboration have created a web of insanely valuable content and context. There is now the web of organizations, and the web of people. It's a turbulent concoction of GENERATION C, LIFE CACHING, NOUVEAU NICHE, GRAVANITY, ONLINE OXYGEN, MINIPRENEURS and more (please re-read these trends to refresh your memory).
Now, when you read the following, can you imagine the state of the classroom for most students where such pro-active interaction is not even valued nor celebrated? How much longer will 'school' be relevant if it doesn't begin to re-think the very relationship between learner and information and action and ownership and collaboration and real-world-doing?
For the first time in the history of our still evolving consumer societies, tens of millions of consumers are pro-actively telling and showing each other, and you, what they're feeling and doing in the broadest sense of the word, all in a centralized online arena, in real time (it has never been easier to upload your LIFE CACHE), whether it's on (mo)blogs or on picture and video sites. They want to connect, to share, to create, to show off. Add to that a slew of new search engines helping you navigate through Web 2.0 (there, we said it), and the ability to link postings to personal profiles (TWINSUMERS) to put things in perspective, and what you end up with is a completely new way of observing, of keeping a finger on the global pulse, of inspiring yourself. Regardless of whether you're a CEO, a researcher, a planner, an entrepreneur, a designer, an MBA or MFA student, or a fellow member of GENERATION C.
In a nutshell, here is their advice for how best to 'connect' with your audience (which they call 'consumer', but I think you can call them 'student' and come up with an immediate use in our on-going discussion):
- Live the life of your customers -- Note, they point out some wonderful Flickr-based collections including "What's on your desk?" that is insanely interesting, and "What's in your fridge?" and the like. Or the wonderful art gallery in Shanghai that takes a look at a variety of real people's living rooms, which reminds me of a wonderful book that came out years ago that showed a collection of photos of American teen bedrooms, which in my opinion does a heck of a job of showing how kids truly live regardless of their 'street' or school persona.
- Roam the world's most inspiring places -- As they said:
This is where VIRTUAL ANTHROPOLOGY meets travel meets inspiration. After all, nothing beats the buzz found in the world's great cities, from street culture to window shopping to arts and architecture. And while real-world exploring will always be superior to the virtual alternative, the VIRTUAL ANTHROPOLOGY mindset will let you roam the core and the periphery not just once a year on your 'inspiration' trip, but once a day, or even once an hour.
Seems like a pretty straight-forward argument for using Web2.0 technologies in the classroom (yes, Virginia, there is more than Google), creating 2-way interactive conversations that literally take your students around the world, looking into virtual schools or programs as supports not competition, etc. For fun...and maybe education...try A9maps for size...and see a wonderful series of street scapes in a way you haven't before.
Beyond Trendwatching's concepts, you might also enjoy taking a longer ride down the rabbit hole of trends...esp. if you're curious where your kids or students are gathering steam outside of class. Here is a great list of sources they recommend:
Agenda Inc: a 24/7, curated feed of articles from the frontiers of pop-culture.
PSFK: a not to be missed daily selection of trend articles and insightful comments from around the world.
Influx Insights: a brand/trend agency with a spot-on blog, offering a mix of interesting articles and proprietary spottings/trends.
Reveries Extra Texture: an eclectic collection of marketing-relevant news headlines and trends, updated throughout the day.
Springwise New Business Ideas: TRENDWATCHING.COM's sister publication, offering a monthly dose of new business ideas (and the trends that make them tick).
TrendCentral: daily new products and service spottings, ranging from the frilly to the cutting edge. Heavy teen/youth focus.
Last but not least, to learn from what major business publications have said about our trends, including many new insights and examples, please visit our ever-growing overview of trend articles at http://www.trendwatching.com/press/trendarticles.html.