When people question old assumptions and change old habits they create openings for whole new businesses to be born. Unexpected things are happening right now that could cause us to question assumptions and change some old habits.
Advantage goes to those who see opportunities in these events and act quickly. When people decide to try new things entrepreneurs need to be there with new offerings that they might like. Some of those offerings will be the start of major new fortunes.
Here are a few unexpected things: yesterday a lawyer who is Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of a Muslim country said, "It is the duty of all citizens of the country and lawyers in particular to continue their struggle for the supremacy of the constitution, rule of law, independent judiciary and real democracy." And a lawyer nominated to lead the Department of Justice of a major Western democracy was unable to declare whether holding someone's head underwater until they almost drown and doing it over and over until they crack was unlawful torture.
Another unexpected thing happened in music. Nessun Dorma is an aria from a Puccini opera; it's a nice song but traditional assumptions say there's only a limited audience for that kind of stuff. Regular folks (known as the mass market) listen to pop, rock or country music. But in March this year an unassuming cell phone salesman from Wales tried out for the UK version of American Idol - Britain's Got Talent - and sang some lines from Nessun Dorma; the audience and judges were surprised, delighted and moved to tears. Over the next few months he sang more opera in semi-finals and finals and became the national winner of the talent contest.
Simon Cowell, that shrewd musical entrepreneur quickly saw the opportunity and signed up the cell phone salesman (Paul Potts) to do an album which has now become number one in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Scandinavia. Simon got first mover advantage but there's still plenty of opportunity for other entrepreneurs to question conventional wisdom and deliver more unexpected music to world audiences.
Regarding lawyers and lawmakers, it seems one of the world's great democracies needs to learn from one of the world's emerging democracies. Maybe folks in both countries (and some of the lawyers too) can help us get new insights on how to run successful governments. The question is how to tap the input of regular folks on this subject the way shows like American Idol and Britain's Got Talent tap their input to discover new musical talent.
The answer involves real-time simulation games that people play over the Internet.
Not only will this be good for democracy, but it will also be a real money maker. There's a perfect storm of opportunity here. TV writers have gone out on strike in the US and shows from Jay Leno to David Letterman and all sorts of other talk shows, sitcoms and dramas are being canceled or put into reruns. This means there's a huge audience suddenly open to getting their entertainment through a different medium.
Game makers from Sony to Microsoft and Nintendo, from Sim 2 to Second Life can offer people a new form of entertainment and enlightenment. They can leverage their existing technologies to deliver games that engage global audiences in interactive simulations where they try to preserve democracy and rule of law in the face of religious fundamentalism and government by emergency decree. Those games can be set in Pakistan and Washington DC.
People might also be interested in playing games where they figure out how to revive the American automobile industry, explore the impacts of H-1B Visa policy, learn about financial market instability caused by sub-prime lending, and even design new clothing fashions. Some of these games will be duds and go nowhere, but some of these games are going to catch on like wildfire. How much advertising revenue do you suppose those successful games could generate?
As programs are canceled, TV airtime is going to get pretty cheap so game makers and other entrepreneurs can afford to run lots of commercials and even do whole programs that teach people how to log onto their game sites and play their games. Are unexpected events, quick thinking entrepreneurs and imaginative use of IT about to create a paradigm shift in global entertainment and politics?
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