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2009 was the year of breakthrough technology-inspired hits like Twitter and Facebook that allowed individuals from all walks of life to communicate, share and publish to the world.  News and updates ricocheted from one person to another or an entire nation or country in a matter of seconds.  I myself was caught up in a situation where I was at the scene of a murder-suicide in the Ft. Lewis PX and once I knew I was safe, I Tweeted about it (albeit I could hardly type from the massive flow of adrenalin coursing through my body).  Within minutes, a flurry of Tweets came back to me asking of my safety.  Retweets ensued.  Then the media jumped in – calls from CNN, NBC, The Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune and more.  They had all seen the Twitter conversation and wanted to get first-hand knowledge of what occurred at the scene.

It may be odd to say, but I confess it did make me feel better to receive messages of assurance from people I didn’t know.  And while the outlets for social media are becoming more a channel for marketing and pyramid schemes, there remains the ability to connect to humankind in meaningful ways that aren’t anchored in “get rich quick” or “work from home and make $1500 a day” pitches.

Power to the people

So, as for my predictions for 2010… I think there’s something to be said about the massive popularity of the Wedding Dance video and the pure, authentic joy that was palpable when we watched it.  The vulnerability of Susan Boyle as she shyly walked on stage and then belted out with the voice of an angel.  We’ve been living in hard times, burdened by joblessness, recession, foreclosures, and furloughs.  We are reminded of our failures and flaws.  And at the same time, we see how sometimes unadulterated greed and ambition actually nets monetary riches (but we always feel better when the “bad guy” gets nabbed!).  When we see people dancing with love and spirit, or we see the underdog succeed, we cheer and smile.  2010 will help us cheer and smile even more as we return back to the basics of human contact and passionate pursuits (art, food, music), enabled and empowered by technology.

Draw your own conclusions

Everyone is an artist.  You might not agree, but it’s probably because your teacher in second grade didn’t confirm your doodles were original, inspired art forms and they likely didn’t encourage you to continue doodling – everywhere and anywhere (okay, there was probably some merit to that admonition).  Now, while we’re not all artists at the level of Picasso or Warhol, there are many who have made fame and fortunes in galleries.  And with the popularity of websites like Etsy, ArtistaDay, TalentHouse and others, amateur and semi-pro artists have a wider forum to share and sell their creations – with or without gallery representation.  With more to express, more people will find different forms of art as outlets, leading to more communities of painters, poets, sculptors and sketchers.  There are even fantastic applications like Brushes on the iPhone that allows anyone to finger-paint a masterpiece, even while stuck in the middle of a packed bus.

Less is more

Twitter became a game of collecting followers.  Best illustrated by Ashton Kutcher’s campaign to get 1M followers, we secretly smiled whenever we got another 5 in one day.  We had fun exchanges with strangers who sometimes even became either virtual or real-life friends.  And now that many of us have a few followers, we’re looking for the connection with these folks.  Can I talk to them about my interest in growing kabocha squash?  Or will that automatically result in 200 less followers?  I know there’s a wealth of information out there in the group of Twitterers, but I don’t always want to spam the group with myNike+ running results and likewise don’t want to hear about somebody’s Mafia Wars score every 5 minutes either.  How do we cultivate relationships online and bring these masses into more bite-sized morsels to get greater satisfaction?  I don’t know how it will be achieved, but I’m sure somebody is on it.

Play it again, Sam

In addition to services like Last.FM, Rhapsody, MOG, Napster, Pandora and more, 2010 will finally see the US launch of Spotify, as well as the global launch of Rdio from the founders of Skype.  Music has always been a way for people to connect – sharing tastes and preferences for artists, genres, and hits.  It illuminates a side of one’s personality that isn’t evident on first glance.  Are you a progressive house fan?  A rocker?  Country, blues or jazz aficionado?   The questions on how to make cloud-based music work (i.e. profitable) for all constituents involved is a complicated matter, but consumers are ready to take tunes on the go – and not just the tunes they’ve purchased on the walled garden of iTunes.

One more time, with feeling

My general prediction for 2010 is a celebration of creativity.  Technologies that enable us to consume, create, and connect will surpass those that allow us to simply collect.

2010 will be the year of:  Creativity. Connection.  Authenticity.  Trust.  Sharing.

I’ve been thinking about what I can do differently in 2010 and have also been reflecting on things people have said and shared with me in 2009.  I’ve been inspired by some – for example, Tim Jackson‘s story of his project, LendAround:

The idea for the project [LendAround] came about when Tim returned home to London after visiting a network of community groups helping vulnerable children in Africa. Looking around his home, Tim noticed how much stuff we all seem to have that doesn’t get used very much — at a time when there are a billion people in the world who have not very much at all, and when it would be good to use a bit less of the earth’s resources.

Tim’s mission is huge, yet simple.  And applicable to many of us, as we have so much stuff.  While LendAround is focused on DVDs, it got me thinking about the loads of old stuff I keep hoarding –  dresses and coats that I keep in case I get a little skinnier or fatter or find that perfect occasion to wear it again. Yet time passes, and that garmet keeps collecting dust.  Or those hardcover books that I rushed to buy and have since been filling shelves.  Or those zillions of CDs I used to buy.  I’ve taken things to consignment or to Goodwill, but I’ve also given away things to friends and acquaintances and felt delighted to see their joy in getting something they wanted for free.
I’ve also been inspired by the generosity of strangers in the Internet – @steamykitchen, a person I met through Twitter, sent me a book for free, as well as some of her homemade chutney, which was to die for.  I’ve won a $50 gift certificate from @wipeoutmarin and I met up with one of my musical idols, Thomas Dolby, when he saw my Facebook update explaining I’d just arrived in London and discovered the conference I was planning to attend was suddenly canceled and was thus looking to revise my schedule.
So my plan in 2010 is to give away 365 items in 2010.  I don’t know if anybody will want what I’m giving away, so if there are no takers, I’ll save them up for Goodwill.  Otherwise, I’m hoping to keep our postman busy by delivering things to strangers in the hopes that I’ll end 2010 a karma-rich individual.

Posted via email from Kathy’s posterous