Are we on the cusp of becoming Derren Brown?

derren-brownI’ve been celebrating my birthday today. So it was going to take something truly remarkable to flip my slightly jaded creative pancake. But of course, the relentless stream of news and opinion delivered.

Over at The Register Matt Asay posed a question: When Big Data REALLY works, is it actually moral? Can we now be persuaded to do things (a lot of things) we wouldn’t do otherwise? Are we effectively puppets on Big Data’s string?

Despite try-hard daily claims to the contrary, marketers have been no Derren Browns. They could get us to buy things we didn’t need. But only the very few found ways to keep that stream of income live to the point of it being properly detrimental to us.

Is this about to change?

At least the potential probably is. And perhaps it’s time we thought about the implications a little more deeply.

Because seemingly simple tricks still work on us. Consider this man’s attempt to get people to buy his book by telling them not to. When simple reverse psychology’s still a great tool, what hope have we got?

And let’s not forget the profound effects of branding (married with great product). Despite the shares being in free-fall, it turns out we still love Apple. A whopping 47% of us are interested in the new Apple television, before any details have been announced. And lots of us think we’d be prepared to pay a 20% premium. Only 20%? Hell, we’re expecting to pay at least 40% extra for that box of tricks.

Meanwhile, the potential of Big Data’s only getting bigger. Because Moore’s Law might be re-instated via ditching silicon for indium gallium arsenide, which will mean more of us can jump aboard the next Innovation Hypercycle.

And as that kicks off it seems that Twitter will kill the call centre, while we start wearing clothes fashioned from the purest Hagifsh slime. If, of course, the Arctic’s ticking carbon bomb  – which is bigger than we expected – doesn’t get us first.

Because with change comes lots of chaos. Ask sniffer dogs. Suddenly their jobs are on the line now we’ve worked out that lasers are better at it.

But if they need to bone up on the understanding of how they work – or if they’ve got any other revision to do – there’s a website for that too.

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