What's new for design, technology and publishing in 2013? A valid question but why not resolve to make a difference, rather than predict what everyone else will do.
It's all too easy to find yourself caught up in the present, like a fly in a web, albeit a digital one in this case. Attending to clients with immediate requirements and never allowing yourself time to look further ahead than lunch or the next meeting can lead to a very blinkered approach to work and life.
I am in the fortunate position where my job specifically requires me to daydream, allowing my imagination to wander, looking beyond the present and jumping headlong into the future.
I have always loved the concept of time travel but it's not the vision of future civilisations or making history tangible that intrigues me, I'm fascinated by the impact of our actions and the rebuttal of inevitability. I don't believe in fate and I have never subscribed to the theory that our lives are in any way shape or form planned for us. If they were, why even bother to climb from our beds in the morning? Why take a different route to work? Why try to shape a business or industry for the better when the end result is written in stone.
Stephen King explored the obdurate past in his novel '11.22.63', stubbornly trying to reassemble itself into a network of intersecting lines that results in the same conclusion, the same historic path, the same planned inevitability. The challenge lies in breaking these strands to change the course of history.
OK, as the option to change the past isn't currently available to us, let's focus on the future as this lies in the hands of individuals prepared to write the history books and create 'Future Fiction'. You don't have to be an author, but someone with a passion to create a narrative for history, rather than slavishly follow focus groups or base all resources on developing multiple-choice products. In order to create and shape demand, you need to define the criteria and the product yourself.
Apple's 'Think Different' slogan is as powerful today as it was when this inspirational ad aired in 1997.
From Albert Einstein to Martin Luther King, Jim Henson to Steve Jobs himself, these were individuals with strong personalities and conviction, carving out deep impressions in the very fabric of history.
The author Philip K Dick is a great example of a 'fictional innovator' – he gave us incredible glimpses of the future with classics such as Blade Runner, Total Recall and Minority Report. A recent comment on Twitter referred to Minority Report as pure fiction that should be treated as such. Well, we may not be exploiting precogs, but we're certainly using Tom Cruise's gestural interface. Several years ago Brandwidth worked on some stunning gestural interaction and 3D plasma screen projects for Toyota, so we've been used to keeping in line with fiction in order to keep clients ahead in the 'real world'.
2013 offers us more tools than ever before to bring the future into focus. Watch out for wearable technology and a return of gestural interfaces, powered by great hardware such as Leap and Microsoft's Kinect. When scale is important, we'll move beyond touchscreens and bring digital content into our physical environment. Don't worry, that doesn't make your smartphone and tablet obsolete, just open your minds to TVs, shop windows and car interiors that need you to wave your arms around.
This is an exciting time to make a digital difference in a physical world. Don't settle for today, when tomorrow has yet to be shaped. Get out there and write the future, don't sit back and read it.