NEXT’s most popular 2018 posts: the future of work and products

Which of 2018's posts caught your eye on the NEXT blog? Product development and sustainable business were popular topics - but what are the surprises?

As I noted last week in our round-up of the most popular posts of the year, the majority of 2018’s posts were hanging just outside the top 10 most read posts. Looking at which 2018 posts specifically has been an interesting experience, as it’s thrown up a few interesting trends. Let’s look at the top 10 posts written in 2018 first – and then discuss the trends afterwards…

1. The Dopamine Loop is Dead. Long Live the Experience Loop!

(February, Martin Recke)

Martin’s deeply-researched piece explored what could lay beyond today’s platforms and their obsession with tapping into the brain’s reward centres to trigger user addiction. A hugely useful piece that can inform people’s thinking for years to come – I would not be surprised to see this in the top 10 next year.

2. Digital Fix – Fix Digital 

(April, Martin Recke)

The piece that both heralded and explain the theme of NEXT18. Frankly, I’d be worried if it wasn’t high up the rankings for the year – and it is! I particularly enjoyed the way Martin threaded the topics of the previous two years of NEXT, giving us context for the year’s discussions. (Also in the overall top 10.)

3. The future of work is flexibility: of culture, skills and attitude

(February, Adam Tinworth)

The future of work seems to have been a preoccupation for us over last year. And that clearly resonated with you good people, because this piece, which sets out some of the fundamental challenges with allowing companies to explore sustainable innovation within their businesses.

4. Modernity and Reality are the Next Frontier

(January, Martin Recke)

A typically challenging read from Martin, building on some of David Mattin’s ideas from NEXT17 to explore what modernity might mean in the digital world. This still makes me think after re-reading it a year on. I’m delighted to see pieces like this doing so well. It really shows that the NEXT community are welcoming of more challenging ideas than the normal tech coverage pablum.

5. How to get human time back from technology

(August, Amber Case)

The is just a great and apposite piece from one of our NEXT18 speakers. Amber too the negativity swirling around digital and made it into a positive move forwards, just as she went on to do in her talk. This is very much at the heart of the “Fix Digital” aspect of last year’s theme.

6. Meet the NEXT18 Designers: Bräutigam & Rotermund

(July, Martin Ivanovs)

Well, this one caught me by surprise. Martin I.’s profile of the designers behind last year’s branding clearly caught people’s attention. Maybe we should do a few more “behind-the-scenes” posts this year? Would that be of interest to you? Let us know…

7. Are you enhancing people’s experiences – or addicting them to your product?

(February, Adam Tinworth)

This was a piece born of reading Matthias Schrader’s book Transformational Products that led me to explore the difference between product which spark joy (to go all Konmarie on you) and enthusiasm, and those which claim our attention through addictive mechanisms. Both routes lead to great active usage — but only one allows you to build product consumers actually love. And love is a surprisingly effective business model, while Facebook is bust discovering the cost of the alternative.

8. Can We Design for Wellbeing?

(January, Pamela Pavliscak)

Two times NEXT speaker Pamela helped set the agenda for the year by exploring fundamental way we can rethink the ways we design digital products to promote wellbeing rather than addition, stress and compulsive behaviour. There’s been a strong product design thread running through the popular posts, hasn’t there?

9. Mobility as a Service: a Network to Rule All Networks

(February, Martin Recke)

One of the few really long-term trends pieces to make it into the year’s most popular posts. The slow shift towards mobility as a possession towards mobility as a service is being fed by a number of technological and demographic trends, as Martin explores. This is one we should probably revisit at some point this year.

10. The Future of work is what can’t be done by machines

(January, Martin Recke)

A piece from a year ago, which feels just as relevant now as it did then — Martin makes a compelling case for the best jobs in the future being the ones where humans and machines work together to produce better results than either could have done independently.

So – what can we learn? You seem very interested in two main streams:

  • Sustainable future business and work
  • Better product design

That makes sense, given the nature of the NEXT community and the speakers we attract, and the general tone of the conference: we’re not about the small tactical changes you need today, but the longer-term, strategic planning to make sure you have a viable business for the next decade. In many ways, this list suggests we’re hitting many of the right topics, which is encouraging.

If I was to take any specific messages away it would be:

  • More from our speakers. They’re part of the NEXT community, too. Bringing more voices onto the blog isn’t easy, but is something perhaps we could do
  • More “behind the scenes” stuff. We do so little of it, that the one piece we did do making such a traffic impression suggests that there’s more to be done here.

We’ll feed these into our discussions – but if you have any thoughts, let us know.