Thanks to all who attended our research preview and discussion last week - insights from our Media Genius community are always incredibly valuable! Study detail is now available here. Check out additional perspective on why we undertook the project below.
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What Comes After the Coherence Crash

Last week we published a research study with 
Institute for the Future looking at how people make sense of a world challenged by societal crises, disinformation, and declining confidence in institutions. 

The findings suggest, even post-pandemic, we will not revert back to "normal." Events of 2020, and our responses to them, broke conventions that help us to make sense of the world, our communities, and ourselves. The study likens it to a coherence crash.

The fill the void, we saw a DIY movement gain momentum around the world — to find peace and belonging through relationships, personal interests, or spirituality.

Each is taking on new forms, accelerated by innovative digital platforms and social networking behaviors. McKinsey 
reported share of digital products within corporate portfolios accelerated by a shocking seven years. COVID-19 pushed technology to a tipping point, transforming business and cultural norms forever.

Ingredients for navigating the coherence crash: ambition, curiosity, and ability to see hidden value.
So how do these cultural breaks coincide with professional realities?

As Apple said in its eponymous advertising campaign that relaunched the Macintosh: Think Different. The spots featured pioneers like Albert Einstein, Bob Dylan, Martin Luther King Jr., Martha Graham, and Thomas Edison, all of whom embodied a mix of ambition, curiosity, and vision to see value where others could not. The intersection of these skillsets will be required for brands and agencies to resonate in this new DIY world. 

The links below show behaviors from the edge of the new world we live in. Whether it's building purposeful micro-platforms, taking spirituality into our own hands, or rediscovering local communities, how people socialize and make sense in this world must be reflected in our work. To go deeper,
here is more about how we arrived at this study and the new behaviors uncovered.

Chris Perry


As always, if you find this newsletter valuable we would be grateful if you encouraged others to sign up by directing them here.
What We're Reading
Building New “Realities” Collaboratively
5 Facts About the QAnon Conspiracy Theories
By Pew Research Center
In the six-month span of conducting our study, QAnon went from a ”fringe movement” to a globally-known phenomenon that many embrace as reality. Pew Research tracks how much Americans have heard about the QAnon movement and their views about them. Understanding these them is increasingly important as people lose trust in traditional sensemaking institutions. 
DIY Spirituality
Pandemic Panic has Increased the Demand for Astrologers, Tarot Readers and Energy Healers
By Maanya Sachdeva, Vice
From manifestation courses to WitchTok to personalized tarot readings to nuanced astrology apps — rising uncertainty and stress have people counting on divine guidance to navigate this crisis. Just as people began to take better care of their bodies, cook their own meals, and use spare time to work out, they are looking for ways to attract true happiness and abundance in their lives. Some spiritual leaders are stepping in to provide innovative services during this collective awakening. 
Perfecting Online Cheating
These Students Figured Out Their Tests Were Graded by AI — and the Easy Way to Cheat
By Monica Chin, The Verge

As COVID-19 has driven schools around the US to move teaching to online or hybrid models, many are outsourcing some instruction and grading to virtual education platforms. And students are learning how to navigate the AI to cheat on schoolwork. Some parents report being happy their children learned how to game an educational algorithm — believing it’s a useful life skill. 

Embracing Secure Surveillance
COVID Tracing Fans Public Health vs Privacy Debate
By Bruce Love, Financial Times

How do you simultaneously tackle a health issue with a privacy issue? Authorities are under pressure to control the pandemic while navigating long-controversial ethical concerns related to data sharing. But sentiments may be changing — 67% of consumers and 91% of IT professionals said they'd support a nationwide rollout of contact-tracing apps earlier this fall. 

Building Purposeful Micro-Platforms
Low-Code and No-Code Development is Changing How Software is Built — and Who Builds It
By Daphne Leprince-Ringuet, ZDNet

Low-code development platforms are on the rise, and they are letting companies access sophisticated tools regardless of their track record in digital software. Often named alongside "no-code" platforms, low-code tools largely or entirely bypass the need for knowledge that is necessary to build software. This has historically been a barrier for many innovators, but these technologies allow anyone with a good idea to benefit.

Befriending Bots
Meet My Non-Human Quarantine Crushes
By Stephanie GeorgopulosMedium

These days, interaction with new "people" is largely limited to online. Whether it's Animal Crossing villagers, Pokemon-Go quest-masters, or AI therapists, people are finding friendships, comfort, and even infatuation with non-human entities. 

Rediscovering + Sharing the Local
What is Randonautica Really About?
By Lena Wilson, The New York Times

Randonautica leads users to randomized locations in their area resulting in some pleasant and terrifying discoveries — a friendly dog in the desert, a field of wildflowers, or even a suitcase full of human remains. While the location generator faces some controversy regarding its process (creators claim humans can control the intention of the random numbers with their mind) the app's popularity has skyrocketed due to the core of its mission: helping people discover unknowns in their own communities

Journeying Together in Virtual Bodies
Among Us: The Video Game That Has Shot 100 Million Players into Outer Space
By Alice Fisher, The Guardian

This year has seen the rise of "covideogamers" – people who’ve taken up games to pass the long hours of lockdown. In the UK for example, the overall gaming population has increased by 63% in 2020. One online multiplayer game to benefit, Among Us, has provided an unparalleled social experience that users are gathering within for live streams, birthdays, and political conversations. 

Rebuilding Family Traditions
The Way We Express Grief for Strangers is Changing
By Tanya Basu
, MIT Tech Review

Usual rituals for observing death and processing grief have been demolished by social distancing protocols. Online memorials are just one of the ways people are trying to comprehend the scale of our loss during the pandemic. We’ve seen a rise in creative bereavements in Animal Crossing, over Zoom, through emerging apps, and beyond. 

Calculating Personal Resilience
Robinhood’s User Base Is Still Growing, Analyst Says
By Avi Salzman, Barrons

A surge in new accounts on the brokerage app Robinhood may not have just been a short-term phenomenon linked to the start of the coronavirus shutdowns in March. Unreliable job markets and improved accessibility have many inspired to take their finances into their own hands — a trend likely to outlast the pandemic. 

Deep Take
Social Strikes Back!
By Andreessen Horowitz

Until recently, it was commonly accepted that "social" was done. The market had been fully saturated, the thinking went, dominated by the holy trinity of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Turns out, rumors of social's demise have been greatly exaggerated. Not only are we seeing the rise of innovative new social networks—from the earshare of Clubhouse to the seamless interactivity of cloud gaming—but having a social component has become a powerful acquisition and retention tool for every consumer product, across education, shopping, fitness, food, entertainment, and more. In this series, Andreessen Horowitz reveals what new social looks like, the forces that are driving it, and how to build it.

Copyright © 2020 Weber Shandwick

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