The IFTF Blog
Calacanis Hoax: Guerrilla Futures as Persuasion
I don't know why Jason Calacanis spent much of the day and night before Steve Jobs' triumphal introduction of Apple's latest "game-changer" reviewing in great detail (or as much detail as twitter posts can muster) all of the specs and features of a "reviewer's copy" of an iPad device that he never actually had in possession. Maybe it was a simple hoax to expose the overblown hysteria that seems to surround Apple and its magical devices. That's fun. But whether there was a deeper motivation or not, most of the media coverage of the Calacanis hoax has been centered on, well, the media, and how many major news outlets were "fooled" by the story, and should be ashamed of their lack of fact-checking and follow-through.
I'd like to read more into this story of microblog-based provocation. In the circles I run in at IFTF and elsewhere, a certain appreciation exists for attempts to smuggle futures thinking into places where we least expect it: the present. Calacanis may have been taking the piss out of Apple, but he was also planting a futures flag in the land of now. He was projecting his wants and desires for the iPad device of HIS dreams, with all the apps, specs, features, ports, protocols, bells, whistles, and special juju that it deserves. An iPad that would stack up more favorably in competition against a rock.
Companies spend fortunes trying to insinuate their products into our minds, to make the future seem incomplete without their particular brand of toothpaste or automobility or non-dairy snack food. They have the resources to colonize our future with their version/vision of possibility and rightness and happiness.
What I like about Calacanis' foray into guerrilla futures is the slight subversion of the ordained product narrative, and the exposure of Apple's Godfather-like hold on our collective desires. What i like even more is the recognition of the increasing power that we have to create and disseminate OUR OWN images of the future into the world, and for them to be taken seriously (even when comical) by large numbers of people. They've got the Jobs, but we've got the followers.
When we start to act AS IF the things WE want in our products and in our world actually exist, it makes it just a little easier for those things to actually happen. I think THAT is the lesson of the Calacanis/iPad hoax, and one that is much more important than whether CNN treated a twitter post as truth.