21st December 2014 Ravi Ruparel

2015: Life is beautiful?


Watching Cabaret on Broadway during a recent trip to New York changed my perspective a little on what is important in life – I just couldn’t stop thinking about the meaning of the lyric ‘Life is beautiful’. It got me thinking about the extent to which I was being distracted by fun and technology, away from what was really important and how that could change in 2015. I want to place a bet on this and put it on record. I think life in 2015 will be further designed and inspired by insane creative technology that will amuse; unfortunately this might completely distract a lot of smart people from the real economic and social challenges faced today. Let’s call it the digital hoodwink. It’s a hood wink because I think we could actually start to do something about the challenges. I want to make sure I stay grounded and balanced across the fun and the real.

The last few years have seen huge advances and investment to connect the world in real time, to fuse people, places, businesses, content and events with digital, virtual and augmented infrastructure. Digital channels and platforms that operate at lightening speed, at little cost and have evolved from text to HD video in zero time. We have seen huge leaps in creativity, computer-processing power and mobile phones together with widespread increasing digital skills to make things happen. These are all coming together to make inspiring, unbelievable ideas real in a matter of days, at low cost. Agile techniques, prototypes, visuals, reuse of open free code and cross border teams make project delivery and execution of things less risky, faster and lead to better products.  Expect to see new forms of personal transport, sexy wearable tech, virtual reality, illusion and art everywhere on digital screens in every corner.

So let’s look forward to a beautiful year?, a year we can tinder away to find love over and over again, get in the creative zone with 100 Instagram’s for breakfast, find a new job every 6 months through Linkedin with more pay, maybe by bitcoin – Yay!, share cat pictures, videos and maybe even holograms. Get smart playing games on our phones, ignore the tube crush – do you care when you have candy to play with? where is the 2048 tile? Why not learn to paint and speak 10 languages using animal sounds and pictures – better still use Google translate and drones to do it for you, there is an app for that! I want my shopping not just delivered but packed away and automatically re-ordered, my data to be analysed so that the world knows exactly how I feel and think, allowing me to be fulfilled when I need it most. This year will also be the year of YouTube – its all about the Y (YouTube) and goodbye to the X (X-Factor), nobody needs a show to make them famous when they can make money and fame from video’s on YouTube. It’s about me after all? isn’t it?

It’s all about the Y, Why, why? I think that even children have stopped asking why at an early age as they have an iPad, Google and Siri to ask this question to, but the Simpsons, VEVO or cartoons or worse are a major distraction to them. Like children, adults seem to have stopped asking why and are constantly distracted and entertained by one of their 20 electronic devices.

I don’t remember ever being told by a teacher or employer the true purpose of things, its too difficult a thing to answer and they are not told it’s their responsibility – why am I here? I get it; it’s a tough one. I have just been told to be good, kind and respectful. As I gain more experience, I start to see a little clearer and am still kind, I hope. Without considering religion or politics, I think the point is to be part of a coordinated effort to progress life for all so that life really is beautiful and better. A world that evolves, progresses, where people are happier, people feel loved, they are helped if they really need it and we are each free and helped to be the best person and team we can be, together. Way too idealistic? I think not. You just want to be happy and the best you can be, right?

Have you thought about how many people didn’t eat tonight, were beaten, died without reason, could have been saved, had no one to speak to or had no support to make their health project come to life?

Do you know how many people (including politicians) played Candy Crush when they could have written a letter to someone in need or wrote a song that inspired a sick child. How many people spent the weekend shopping when they could have gone to a community centre to help a lonely person? How many accountants and advisors that could have thought about a fairer, better tax system to make education free and relevant. You get my point, I hope.

We have started to see how digital infrastructure can really help crowd source, fund and make things happen in no time. We have seen how positive messages can go around the world and we can download apps for good health, monitor blood pressure, yoga, charity walks and runs as well as do ice bucket challenges that raised $100m for ALS. We have even seen hackers take out the film industry. However, this is still tiny in proportion to the money going into fashion, entertainment, transport, luxury, technology etc. It is still tiny in proportion to the 1 billion $ to kick-starter projects for virtual reality things or tweet-able desktop toys. It can’t just be me that thinks that if we looked a little less at some things we could do something a little more powerful with our brains, time and money? I know there are a bunch of super-fly people sitting around disruption invite only supper’s to change the world but what about the rest of us? I want to survive and make real contribution as well. Work hard, play hard and help.

I know exactly how to make a short video for a new cool gadget that could get kick started in 14 days but I don’t know where to start to use creative tech to improve education, make it free, reduce house prices, equalise the gap between rich and poor, help people live longer and healthier, make life simpler to digest and fuel creative community activity. I am certain that the world is ready to embrace the challenge of really making life beautiful and I would love for 2015 to be the year that we were not hood winked. I’d like to do it together with lots of people in the real and digital world and make it a beautiful New Year.  Mail me, let’s do something and don’t get me wrong, I want it to be fun and to smile and maybe dance and I will continue to be commercial and do the day job (really well!), I just want to reallocate some time, money and thinking to some real economic issues.

I’d love to hear from you if you have a world changing project or amazing local community project. Changing the game is fun but it’s also time to make life really beautiful, together? Happy holidays and 2015 ><

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