Nokia redefines mashups: circular entertainment

Nokia must be doing something right. The cell phone maker is a leader at the cutting edge of electronics, the distribution and servicing of handheld electronic  devices. So when it publishes a study, “A Glimpse of the Next Episode,” it seems wise to assume that the report is somewhat self-serving and that the company has released that which it wants us to know and kept back some of the spice it discovered so as to better mix its own secret sauce.

That being said, Nokia predicts that within five years, one-quarter of entertainment “will have been created, edited and shared within their peer circle rather than coming out of traditional media groups.” In short, life will be a big mashup, viewed often no doubt on mobile devices.

I found two distillations of the Nokia findings (from MobileCrunch and Daily Connect) but not a link to the report.  And unless I glossed over it in my reading, I don’t know how the survey arrived at the 25 percent figure — by dollars spent, bytes transmitted or elapsed time of perusing what fruits arrive from the entertainment shift. (We are told that 9,000 persons were involved in 17 countries.)

But I’m not hung up on the numbers. What strikes me as interesting and plausible is the direction in which this study leads our thinking. We all add a little top spin when we tell a story. We add an adjective or a frown to indicate what we think about whatever — to influence or impress our listeners. What Nokia is talking about is the technological equivalent. Say you’ve just downloaded an interview with a celebrity you love or detest. What if you could add a halo or a pair of horns over the head and pass it to a friend? Isn’t that what the Web is about? Take the peer-conscious nature of youth culture; provide a device to easily share thoughts and impulses; and a way to modify the original content. And you have the making of many minutes of merriment. Wanna put your girlfriend’s head on Lindsay Lohan’s body? Can do. What fun!

Well, not for me but then that is the point. I belong to the generation who read. Soon I will put my false teeth into the cup beside my bed and not long after that me and my cohort will die, leaving behind many problems from a warmer world to the nettlesome issues of how to accommodate this playfulness. For instance, will Nokia be responsible for allowing the proliferation of softwares that would make it easy, for instance, to alter copyrighted text? Or will it close its platform to such alterating effects and insist that mashers do their mashing on other devices and only deliver their copyright infringements over Nokia’s net? Or maybe the copyright fundamentalists in Hollywood will get over their bad selves and allow that the universe of fair use must expand? Why are you shaking your heads? It could happen.

One last thought along these lines is aimed at Americans. Today we imagine ourselves the center of popular culture and that may be true, especially as regards movies and perhaps music — pop culture is hardly my forte. But as in every other realm of affairs any U.S. advantage is evaporating more rapidly than the worth of the dollar. Nokia, for instance, is based in a country that clings by its fingernails to the appelation of being a Western nation. And many of the insights and trends that will influence this mobile, mashup world of “circular entertainment” are already coming from Asia, notably trendy Japan and hot-on-its-heels South Korea.  

Here’s one last kick in the ass to American complacency: this study was done for Nokia by a UK outfit called The Future Laboratory. I visited its web site this morning to see who are these hot zeitgeisters and I learned that they have a patented form research called “cultural triangulation.” What  is that? Why they ask questions, watch the respondents and then use their intuition! Can you imagine that? All three human actitivities performed by one market research firm and protected by patents. Why even if anyone else thought of using their ears, eyes and brain all at the same time, they’d be prevented by international patent law. Want to be really impressed. Visit The Future Laboratory web site and watch it load — it’s cool, and I hope they markup their work an extra 15 percent for the entertainment value of that click, over and above the premium already charged for their cultural triangulation patent.