- The Washington Times - Friday, January 4, 2008

With the passage of 2007 into 2008, trend observers note a shift in products, people and services — many of which will be driven, not surprisingly, by our love-hate relationship with technology.

What will be hot this year? Couch surfing, climate sightseeing and committing Facebook suicide, said Ann Mack, who holds the fascinating corporate title of “director of trendspotting” for the international ad agency JWT.

“By examining what will resonate with people or drive their thinking or behavior, we can identify larger patterns that will shape all of our lives in the years to come,” Miss Mack said in announcing the agency’s list of “Eighty Things to Watch in 2008.” The list is available at www.jwt.com.

Sick of being online 24/7, attached at the hip to your Crackberry? You are not alone, said Miss Mack, who has coined a new term for our national technology addiction: Mobulimia. The affliction describes folks who seem glued to their personal communication devices, often at the expense of the world around them.

The antidote: De-teching, she said.

People now are trying to live in the moment, turning off their phones and PCs for an hour, or even a day, in favor of quality one-on-one communication with family and friends, Miss Mack said.

Some schools also are encouraging less technology, removing their students from televisions and computers in favor of old-fashioned board games and make-believe exercises that encourage imagination, she added.

Those who are addicted to technology are starting to get mighty sick of the mess on their screens.

In 2008, Miss Mack predicted, a new market will emerge for “e-clutter consultants” who will show computer users how to neatly file their online lives — from their finances, to their professional files to the information that deals directly with their personal relationships.

Other technological developments for 2008 include the advent of “sturking,” a form of cyber stalking.

“This is someone checking out someone by intensively investigating them online,” Miss Mack said. Sturking is becoming easier with the proliferation of online sources such as Facebook.

Also popular this year will be climate sightseeing, with travelers visiting locales that often are the sites of fierce climate change.

“A lot of people want to see some areas of the world that are changing shape,” she said. “The irony of this is that much of this increased long-distance travel will contribute to global warming.”

Gerald Celente, who assembled a more-serious list of 2008 trends, noted it will be a year for a financial dive but also one that creates opportunities for a new set of entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs will leverage business losses to create more personal companies that are less corporate and more unique, he said.

“What we are saying is that the financial news is much worse this year than it’s being presented as,” said Mr. Celente, founder and director of the Trends Research Institute.

Mr. Celente also predicted the rise of conservation engineers, who will help people properly and effectively conserve energy.

Like Miss Mack, he has a name for those who can’t get away from their personal communication devices: Technoslaves.

“The more you communicate, the more you talk, the more you message, the less you are reading,” Mr. Celente said. “It’s not the information age, it’s the communication age. But what is being communicated is not knowledge, it’s blah, blah, blah. People are not learning and this is a critical time to learn.”

DEFINING 2008

Observers say technology will continue to be a common thread in our lives this year. Advertising agency JWT recently released its list of Eighty Things to Watch in 2008. The full list is available at www.jwt.com.

1. Africa (foreign investment and development in)

2. Climate sightseeing

3. Cooperative consumption

4. De-teching

5. DNA-based exercising

6. E-clutter (and e-clutter consultants)

7. E-mail etiquette

8. Facebook suicides

9. Google’s Android

10. Kitchen appliances as new power tools

Source: JWT

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