Grant McCracken is viewing the future from a cultural perspective. Consulting a lot of big companies, he explores what we will be asking for in the next decades. How will technology change our approach to daily life? For him, technology becomes something natural. “Technology will be whispery and built-in,” he says.
We will use it even without noticing it, but technology will change our lives dramatically. “If you are making 20 dollars an hour now, you are going to lose your job to a robot,” McCracken predicts. “And then people will be saying: I am out of here. They will go to intentional communities in the countryside and they will in affect go off the grid. They will leave the world that judges them and will go to a place where they create their own culture, they create their own economy, their own work.”
And here a second change will come into the game: the decline of consumer packaged goods and the rise of artisanal goods. Grant McCracken: “We can already see a very fast transformation of consumer taste and preference. As the digital world develops and we become capable of creating things that are truly perfect, there is a weird way in which we are saying: wow, the machines don’t need us anymore. The machines can turn out perfection that makes us look like amateurs, but we like things that are a little rough, not quite so sophisticated. People will be buying many more artisanal goods, made in small batches, relatively unbranded, made by someone who comes to the marketplace on the wings of a personal story.”
These goods – often customized – will be made in the intentional communities mentioned above. “People will learn skills, they will pass those skills to these communities, they will use those skills to create this alternative to consumer packaged goods and they will become suppliers to one another but they will also become suppliers to those families that live in the cities. The artisanal economy will make life in these intentional communities vastly easier than it was in the sixties.
It’s the “outbreak of a new order of improvisation and spontaneity,” McCracken calls it.
The “other big change,” he found out, “is happening in the home: it’s the rise of the great room.” The great room, as Grant McCracken describes it, “is the room which you get when you knock down the walls between living room, kitchen and dining room.” It’s the room for entertainment, the room for social life, just like a bonfire in the past. “The upcoming of the great room changes the ceremonial regime of the family and the home in a dramatic way. Families will be much more casual, spontaneous, loose and fluid,” McCracken says.
As a cultural anthropologist, Grant McCracken looks at the places where culture and commerce, anthropology and economics meet most often: marketing in general, branding in particular, pop culture, Hollywood, advertising, television, magazines, and new media. He was the founder and director of the Institute for Contemporary Culture at the Royal Ontario Museum. Grant has studied American culture for 25 years and has taught at the University of Cambridge, and the Harvard Business School. The Canadian provides clients with a comprehensive but incisive review of contemporary culture, its foundations, current state and most importantly future trends and strategies for managing it. Grant McCracken lives in Rowayton, Connecticut.
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