Monday, February 25, 2013

Pop Music Gets Bluesy: Why Our Music Feels So Sad

Recent studies show that the youngest cohort of Millennials belong to Generation Stress. They're working less and taking more anti-depressants than any Gen Xers and Boomers. Even the music they prefer is sadder.

Yes, really.

A recent study by Glenn Schellenberg that analyzes* over five decades of Billboard charts confirms that pop is losing its twinkle. Far more of today’s hits are in minor keys (which most of us hear as sadder or more complex)—more than half, as compared to just 15% in the 1960s.

What’s happening here? Alice Cooper, heavy metal icon turned radio host thinks songwriter ego is at play. “Bands that want to sound like they’re deep and serious cannot play in major keys—they want to go to minor keys to make them sound more mysterious. I think that we have really gotten away from the fun of rock music and we’ve gotten too emotional about it.” Fair enough. But what's underneath the trend? 

I'd like to argue it's just another example of art imitating life. Every generation gravitates toward its vibe--the sounds that echo an inner experience for listeners. 

Either way, the beat goes on, albeit in a minor key.

*The pattern-recognition study appears in the Journal of Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts. (August 2012, Volume 6, Page 196-203)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Call to Action: Nominate Thought Leaders for International Women's Day

Faithful readers, I need your wisdom.

In time for International Women's Day, Friday, March 8, I want to identify the women who influence digital culture, but who are less recognized. Our culture scouts are digging deep to go beyond the obvious, and we need your help. 

Nominate a colleague, client, friend, or a woman you've never met but have always admired. 

I'm looking for true pioneers of the information age. They are the game changers, the fearless, impassioned geeks, agile pathfinders—the world builders.

- eLearning
- computer science
- publishing
- game development
- eMarketing
- venture capital
- social innovation
- brand-making
- thought leadership
- outliers

Oh, and if you've got any creative thoughts about the list... or have a nominee? Terrific! Just shoot me an email: pat at 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

3 Technology Trends Shaping Marketing in 2013

With the new year still in its infancy, it’s a good time to look ahead at the technology trends that will shape marketing in 2013. There are so many different topics to cover, but here are three trends that I believe will change how marketing executives think and work in full post over at #MENGBlend blog

Monday, February 11, 2013

6 Cultural Trends Being Driven By Technology

Trends come and go. But every now and then a major wave arises that ripples across the culture, and seeps into everything. This is one such time, and the mega trend is this: the Internet is adapting us, not the other way around. It's our culture's Flux Capacitor, converting outmoded things into something the future can use. The next big thing is…(complete post at Huffington Post).

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Trend watch: Why Digital Culture Needs Artists

Data visualization, graphic facilitation, avatars, graphic novels, re-mix art, digital photography, virtual reality design--this is just a short list of creative genres that didn't exist 20 years ago.
Digital is changing the face of art and design. It's boom time for artists savvy enough to see the brass ring swinging in their direction. The Internet has evolved from source code to "illuminated manuscript" in five short years. Consumer adoption behaviors reveal a voracious appetite for visuals. This visual saliency bias means that brighter-colored pixels and design elements drive consumer choice. This is especially true when consumers are shopping while juggling a cognitively demanding task--such as talking or texting on a cellphone while shopping, says Mili Milosavljevic, Ph.D. 

For brandmakers wanting to create more meaningful bonds with consumers, you'll need the kind of content people love and share. That means artists are a "must have" in your talent portfolio. 
“Design, coupled with a true understanding of the power that design has over our everyday lives, is emerging as a critical strategic component of American success.” Hilary Jay, Founding Director, DesignPhiladelphia

Find out more about in this and other cultural trends in our latest Report: 13 Things Breaking through in 2013.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Clean Energy: How to Change the Culture of Shirking

Photographer Karen Hanrahan
Wind turbines, electric cars, vertical farming, carbon sequestration — the Internet is drowning in technology-centered conversations about what it’ll take to heal the planet. There’s a lot of information, and a lot of it is conflicting. But the main question rising to the surface has less to do with our technologies than with our collective consciousness. People can’t picture how it will happen.
As a global society, how do we move toward cleaner energy? We are not talking about the wants of a few countries, not a few radicalized citizen groups or NGOs. I mean everyone. It seems we’ve created a culture of shirking on the topic. 

In 2013, global needs will be clarified. Then companies, consumers, and civic leaders can take meaningful action.
I know what you’re thinking.
Is there enough time? Will politicians step up? Are electric cars really practical? Will big oil play ball? Are consumers ready to trade convenience for long-term sustainability? Renewable energy debates bring about textbook negativity. The magnitude of the challenge has created a failure in imagination. Yet, the economics seem so promising. Many economists agree that moving to cleaner energy and more sustainable systems will create jobs—something nearly every country save China is desperate to do. 

Scientists forecast that 95% renewable energy is achievable by 2050. We possess the know-how.  

Now what?

The answer involves a mix of consumer engagement and political commitment. And the most inspiring element is the critical role marketing will play in changing the mindset—bringing people from a confused lack of purpose, to practical can-do spirit—as we market new eco-friendly products and services.

For more on this and other breakthrough trends, check out our new forecast report: 13 Things Breaking Through in 2013.