The Times (New Roman) They are a Changin’

There’s something about the beginning of a new year that makes us stop and think about here we are, where we have been and where we are going. It is during these times that we not only reminisce about bygone days but we also look to the future for what trends and deas lie in store for us. We begin to wonder about how our lives at work and home may change in five, 10, or even 20 years from now.

In our fast-paced technological world, there are numerous trends taking shape and gathering momentum. Here are the highlights of five important and recent core trends that will continue their prominence in years to come. Not surprisingly, technology plays a key role.

Global greening
In response to the on-going concerns over environmental issues, such as global warming and depleting resources, some businesses and individuals have begun to take serious action. As a result, the image of the lone treehugging environmental evangelist has been ratcheted up a notch to include such powerful individuals as former Vice-President Al Gore and global companies such as Wal-Mart.

One main arena in which Wal-Mart has begun to take environmental action is the purchase of their food products from organic producers. The sheer volume that Wal-Mart commands cannot help but reinforce the importance of environmental concerns. Similarly, Al Gore’s mission to combat what he calls the “climate crisis” is backed by his recent film, An Inconvenient Truth, the third-highest-grossing documentary in the United States to date. Known previously as a tragic political player, Gore has redefined himself as an environmental crusader with the power to make a difference on a global scale.

The flow of philanthropy
What have the greedy Boomers from the “Me Generation” of the 80s been up to recently? Well, it seems that they have started another trend and history may very well redefine them as the “We Generation.” Of course, there have always been people (from varied socioeconomic backgrounds) who have devoted their lives to giving back to society, but this particular trend is different.

These people include such players as former president Bill Clinton, Bill and Melinda Gates, and Bill’s bridge buddy, Warren Buffett (who is currently planning how to give away the bulk of his $44 billion fortune.) Gates and Buffett are supplying the cash power while Clinton has persuasive star power. This can only be the beginning.

Connecting the world
How many people do you know and who do they know? Before the onslaught of the internet, this question used to be answered with relative ease. Today, it requires some significant contemplation. The power of the Internet has enabled us to globally connect each other in ways which were previously unimaginable. The concept of how people are connected has been around since the 1920s when the Hungarian writer Karinthy Frigyes coined the phrase “six degrees of separation.” He theorized that anyone on earth can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances with no more than five people in between. We have come a long way since then; suffice to say that we may now only be dealing with two or three degrees of separation.

How can this be possible? The answer lies in the multitude of connective avenues offered up by the Internet (,,…) and other connective devices (cell phones, blackberrys, e-mail….) The World Wide Web is quite aptly named, and it appears that whatever happens from now on, we are all in this together.

Information vs. knowledge
The process of “googling” the word “Google” reveals approximately 781,000,000 search results in, believe it or not, .03 seconds! It is practically impossible to fathom how this information can possibly be revealed to us in such a short period of time. Needless to say, the power we now have to access information is absolutely incredible but more iimportantly, what has this done to our ability to synthesize what we find… more specifically, our ability to learn?

In order to survive and thrive in our world of information overload, we must adopt efficient coping strategies to effectively harness the phenomenal power of the Internet.

The power of design
What do the words, “Times New Roman,” “Arial” and “Comic Sans” mean? It wasn’t too long ago when the average individual would have had a great deal of difficulty trying to answer this question. Design is no longer just a concern for artists and architects. Today, everyone is affected by design in one way or another. One striking example is the infamous ballot design that American voters used to mark their choice for president in the 2004 election, popularizing the term “hanging chads.”

Rising prosperity and advancing technology have made design more accessible than ever before. Indeed, design has become the main method by which companies create niche markets and differentiate themselves from the competition. Now, more than ever, we are turning to good design to bring pleasure, meaning and beauty to our lives.

Five core trends revealed. Are these just “flash in the pan” ideas or do they have the staying power to really make a positive change in our lives at home and at work? The answers will be revealed in future issues with a full article devoted to further exploring each trend. In the meantime, consider how these trends may have already affected you, personally and professionally, or how they might possibly affect you five or ten years from now. You are likely not as isolated as you think.

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