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Skating to Where the Puck is Going
A Distillation of 50+ Global Forecasts into The 16 Most Reported Social Shifts
Like it or not, life is a game. —Phil Knight
We seldom realize that our most private thoughts and emotions are not actually our own. For we think in terms of languages and images which we did not invent, but which were given to us by our society. —Alan Watts.
It’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future. —Yogi Berra
Above: American Hero of Scranton 🤝 Canadian Hero of Southwestern Ontario.
To know me is to understand that I hold near and dear to my heart two things above most all others: hockey and quotes.
I wrote an ode to the former in an previous post…
The sport provides me with an opportunity to escape from the cerebral and to embrace the primal. Darting on a bedrock of hard ice, with two 0.110 inch-thick blades on my feet, I immerse myself in the danger of the competition.
Whether it be the gentle clap of a well-handled pass or the muted crunch of skates cutting into fresh ice, the soundtrack of the beautiful game speaks to me.
Out here, the jargon is monosyllabic and often explicit.
Out here, I don't have to be the writer, the son, the employee, the mentor.
Out here, staring through the chipped checkerboard metal of my helmet cage, my other identity emerges.
Out here, there exists another standard.
Out here, I need not show restraint.
Out here, in my very own wild west, I revel in the chaos, the pandemonium of the jarring hits and the crisp passes.
Out here, I let loose. I play the part of the phoenix, reborn in the blood of the struggle, the sweat of the exertion, and the tears of the opponent.
Out here, I am centered precisely because of my self-departure, leveled because of the imbalance of the campaign.
Out here, bedlam bears internal order; toil, mental tranquility.
Out here, I become alive in a wholly different way.
…and, like basil on fresh linguine, my writing is peppered with quotes and quips that I have collected from books and movies, family and friends.
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Though seemingly unrelated, it turns out the Venn Diagram between these disparate subjects contains a great deal of overlap. After all, hockey players are some of the more vocal athletes out there.
The “Great One”—Wayne Gretzky—is one of the most celebrated on-ice combatants of all time. Among his many choice quotes, one stands out:
I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.
Bad investors skate to where the puck is.
Good investors skate to where the puck is going.
Great investors hold the stick and direct the puck as they please.
Whether speed or information, skill or intel, competitive edge can be found in a wide variety of ways. In no area is edge more important than investing.
The faster trader enters a lucrative position earlier than his slower counterpart.
The well-informed manager understands the second-order consequences of events, his ignorant competitor only sees the first-order ones.
The veteran buys when fearful, the novice when greedy.
To help us take hold of our respective hockey sticks, I turned to my good friend Matt Klein.
Matt is a deep, thorough thinker. His curiosity runs as deep as it is does wide and he has that rare ability to see the forest and the trees simultaneously.
More concretely, Matt works as cultural theorist and strategist who decodes the zeitgeist to make sense of what comes next for brands, investors, journalists, and the UN. In addition to his writing and research for ZINE, he is currently the Head of Global Foresight at Reddit.
Although much has been made about the promise/peril of ChatGPT and recent developments in AI (this very author is guilty), computation pales in comparison to culture and context.
After all, as Peter Drucker famously quipped, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” This occurs not only within startup-land, but also across larger society.
To ignore the zeitgeist and germane cultural trends is to invest while in a vacuum and “to lose the common touch,” per Rudyard Kipling. Matt’s annual pièce de résistance—his META Trending Trends Report—helps us avoid that fate.
Within it, he conducts a meta-analysis of +50 global forecasts and their +500 reported social shifts. He strives to decipher the so-called "trending trends" for 2023 and beyond according to leading think tanks, trendspotting organizations, and more. By using reliability as a proxy for accuracy, we can understand where consensus lies, and further, interrogate each META Trend to uncover overlooked angles.
Though his report is worth a close read through, below I highlight five meta trends investors ought to pay heed to over the coming weeks, months, years.
But first, Matt will help set the scene:
META Trends are a distillation of the industry’s reported trends — an annual meta-analysis of +50 global cultural forecasts.
This is a reflection on the most frequently reported social sifts, and commentary on the process of reporting the trends itself.
My intent from the first 2017 META Report was to leverage reliability (all available reports) as a proxy for accuracy.
But over the years — and with reflection — we’ve found significant systemic flaws in these reports — bias, lack of methods, etc.
“Accuracy” has an asterisk.
While META Trends still provide value by helping us understand the collective’s outlook, META Trends must now be considered not the final product, but a beginning.
The edges are the sharpest, and the fringes are the future.
This leaves two key uses of this META Trends Report:
Interrogate what’s presented — consider all possible angles.
Use this report as mere filter — consider what’s not discussed.
Read 50+ 2023 global reports and parsed 550+ trends in Excel
Analyzed each trend description and color-coordinated themes
Identified 16 META Trends (i.e. the largest themes, trending trends)
Designated ~10x words/phrases to rep each of the 16 META Trends
Used NWO.ai to score each collection of keywords for a rank
“Corp Rank” = industry report mention frequency v.
“AI Rank” = NWO.ai’s proprietary “Impact Score” for keywords
Applied The Overlooked Framework to interrogate each META Trend
1. One of Us 🔗
Alone and over the mainstream, niche and tight communities flourish
Corp Rank: 4/16
AI Rank: 10/16
Keywords: community, we, fix, long tail, P2P, collectivism, margins
Drivers: desires for progress, anti-institution, a friend recession
What If: Scaled sense of belonging heals our mental health crisis?
BUT What If: Communities only further cement in-group mentalities?
To Play: Pivot: “Community Management,” to “Community Participant”
Human Needs: camaraderie, intimacy, social contact
+ Related Dive: The Future Distributed Trust
2. Me-Maxxxing 🎉
Anti-perfectionistic, feral individualism is our hedonistic self-care
Corp Rank: 2/16
AI Rank: 14/16
Keywords: maximalism, me, kidulting, sleaze, goblin, rave, slob
Drivers: faced mortality, exhaustion, trauma, DGAF-ism, neartermism
What If: We normalized quirks and all forms of healthy self-care?
BUT What If: Radical individualism undermines collective progress?
To Play: Drop charades — embrace burnout and uniqueness to heal
Human Needs: freedom, relaxation, catharsis
+ Related Dive: Nihilistic Hedonism
3. Psychic Healing 🍄
Seeking answers and control, we look to our ancestors’ resolutions
Corp Rank: 14/16
AI Rank: 3/16
Keywords: grief, trauma, astro, spirit, moon, nature, manifest
Drivers: decline in institutions, bottomless-wellness, permacrisis
What If: De-stigmatized “fringe” practices offer benefit?
BUT What If: The real, self-reflective work never gets done?
To Play: Offer stabilization, don’t push McMindfulness, slow down
Human Needs: spirituality, competence, assistance
+ Related Dive: Paranormal As Cultural Control + Modern ReligionsPsychic Healing
4. Health Care 🫁
The one thing we can control is our physical health... so we sweat… hard
Corp Rank: 15/16
AI Rank: 2/16
Keywords: sport, active, fitness tech, gym, diet, cold bath, class
Drivers: pandemic mortality and habits, control, status seeking
What If: We can foster body-positivity and work to be healthy too?
AND What If: We don’t give up on addressing obesity or one another?
Human Needs: energy, prosperity, achievement
To Play: Promote various pursuits to health — there is no one path
+ Related Dive: Old-Phobia
5. Localism 🏠
Tethering and cocooning soothes souls, so we plant our roots for place
Corp Rank: 9/16
AI Rank: 15/16
Keywords: neighbor, 3rd place, staycation, region, garden, train
Drivers: lockdown habits, cut travel budgets, anxiety and comfort
What If: We cared about our neighbors as much as those online?
BUT What If: We hide in our nest under cozy covers for too long?
Human Needs: refuge, affinity, hospitality
To Play: Kindle social warmth inside and outside the home
+ Related Dive: Low Sodium & Gentle Gaming
These five represent the mere tip of the iceberg.
Sink your teeth into the full report and digest its fascinating conclusions below:
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Per my about page, White Noise is a work of experimentation. I view it as a sort of thinking aloud, a stress testing of my nascent ideas. Through it, I hope to sharpen my opinions against the whetstone of other people’s feedback, commentary, and input.
If you want to discuss any of the ideas or musings mentioned above or have any books, papers, or links that you think would be interesting to share on a future edition of White Noise, please reach out to me by replying to this email or following me on Twitter.
With sincere gratitude,