Predictions for 2008
By Mike Gordon
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Mike Gordon
If the pace of your life and the choices you had to make last year left you breathless, not to worry. The new year promises a host of trends that will improve your quality of life, your health and your circle of friends.
So go ahead, get caught up in the next big thing for 2008. Local insiders in tech, fitness, fashion, design and entertainment predict it isn't going to be dull.
From your family to strangers halfway around the world, increased communication — laced with doses of voyeurism, exhibitionist behavior and commentary — should rule the world of personal technology in 2008.
The growing field of mobile technology is not only changing the way people engage in conversation, but it's making it possible for them to converse with a worldwide audience, said Ryan Ozawa, a techno-savvy Hawai'i resident who sometimes broadcasts his life in real-time over the Web.
It's part of a trend that shows no signs of slowing down, he said.
Text messages are being sent from cell phones in phenomenal numbers, he said. For anyone younger than 17, it's considered the primary mode of communication. That same generation also is relying on messages posted at very public Web pages on MySpace and Facebook.
"I think they are used to communicating in the clear," said Ozawa, whose day job is Web site design for a real estate company. "We are coming into a time where transparency is the default."
Cell phones will continue to make the world a smaller place. More and more people already use them to take videos; his mother takes photographs with hers and Ozawa has used his own cell phone to post blog items from all over town.
"If I am in line at the grocery store and someone in front of me smells funny, I might tell the world," he said. "It isn't about the carefully crafted message, it is about being fast and concise."
People are making their own content and are often the star of the show, from live video broadcasts over the Web to audio podcasts to photo-sharing sites that attract common interests.
Early last year, there were hundreds of people nationwide streaming live broadcasts on the Web, but now there are thousands, said Burt Lum, a former tech columnist for The Advertiser who has occasionally videocast and podcast his life and times over the Web for the last two years.
The mundane activities of people's lives, rants about their politics, their child's Christmas party and City Council meetings are all being sent out to the world via the Web by an army of amateur broadcasters, regardless of background, Lum said.
"That's the cool thing about it — it doesn't limit access," he said. "Sometimes there is some cool stuff and sometimes there is some lame stuff."
The coming year will see a rise in the practice among Hawai'i residents, he said.
"The Internet has always been there for the individual to do something, particularly to communicate," he said. "Now with the ability of doing this kind of video, it continues to reduce the barrier to these technologies that were once only available to well-financed organizations."
Todd Cochrane, an avid podcaster and the author of "Podcasting: The Do It Yourself Guide," believes the new year will provide even more individual control over media content. Whether mainstream TV and movies or podcasts and videos, more people are going to employ technology that allows them to view the material when they want to see it.
It's like the days of VCRs, but with much broader use. Already, people are viewing recorded material on their cell phone, their digital music player, their computer and even via special online devices that connect to their big-screen TVs and allow them to choose from thousands of movies.
Cochrane called this "time-shifted consumption of media."
"I think what we are going to see in 2008 is more people moving towards consuming the content they want when they want with these variety of devices," he said. "People have a lot of choices in the content they can consume. I think they are being very, very smart and feeding their brains with the information they want their brains fed with."
Getting fit in 2008 will include more resistance training than in previous years, but with a greater emphasis on overall strength than size.
Feeling healthier will be a prime motivator, and people are going to look for routines that do not require a lot of time, said personal trainer Mike Sapp, owner of Sapp Fitness.
"People are realizing they have to do something," he said. "And it isn't how they look, it is how they feel. The mental connection to exercise is huge."
To achieve that, people will gravitate toward fast-paced routines that increase their cardiovascular fitness as well as strength, Sapp said. Routines like that will be especially attractive to busy people with only 30 minutes to 40 minutes of time to train.
"The guys with 12-hour days are going to balance their lives more, and they will realize they have to have fitness," he said. "I foresee shorter, intense, quick-paced resistance workouts with everything thrown in."
Personal trainer Tess Yong said the pursuit of perfection is out. People simply want healthier lifestyles. At the gym, that means training that combines strength, cardiovascular fitness and flexibility, she said.
"They will do more circuit training to have more energy and more evenly balanced muscular structures," she said. "It used to be they liked to have huge biceps, but people know that Arnold Schwarzenegger's time is done. They are more realistic and genuine with their fitness goals. They are not lifting with ego."
Green will be a fashion statement next year, but not necessarily in the form of the soothing color.
"A lot of manufacturers are coming out with eco-conscious fabrics," said designer Momi Chee, owner of Lily Lotus clothing.
From boutique designers to Gap and Banana Republic, more clothing will be made from renewable resources that are kinder to the environment, such as fast-growing bamboo and organic cotton, she said.
The clothing will come in bright colors and in patterns, rather than solids, she said. And "fitness fashion" will be big, too.
"I see people more fashionable when it comes to fitness," Chee said. "I am seeing a merging of fashion and function. I think that is great for Hawai'i because people are so active. You can wear it to the gym and then walk out the door."
Another shade of green — inspired by the University of Hawai'i Warriors football team — looks to be a continuing fashion must in the coming year, said Honolulu designer Anne Namba.
"At Christmas, the only thing that sold and went like hotcakes were the UH T-shirts," Namba said, "That was the only thing you could not find. That was the big fashion trend."
An increasing awareness of the environment also will impact your home in 2008, said interior designer Mary Philpotts McGrath.
Expect a greater use of products that provide lasting value and timeless design, she said. And expect to pay more, too.
"I think you can expect an emphasis on sustainability," said Philpotts McGrath, author of "Hawai'i: A Sense of Place." "People are looking for value. We see it in our industry with products, such as wood, that are environmentally friendly."
Remodeling projects will likely attempt to take advantage of the surrounding natural environment — cross ventilation instead of air conditioning, sliding doors instead of windows, lanai that open out to small garden spaces.
"I think we are connecting with our cultural heritage," she said. "We're looking toward ourselves and designs that relate to our environment and not being so dependent on Mainland trends."
Hawai'i may become more like the Mainland when it comes to the music you see live on stage — and that shouldn't be a bad thing.
The Islands have gained a level of credibility with national acts, said Robbie "Flash" Hansen, a partner in the promotions, production and event coordination service called Flash & Matty Boy.
Between U2's smash 2006 performance at Aloha Stadium and the upcoming pair of sold-out concerts by the Police, Hawai'i is looking more viable as a market, Hansen said.
"It is almost like on any given weekend, you can see a national act, and that is on par with Mainland, metropolitan cities," he said.
But club patrons should also benefit in the coming year from a changing nightlife scene. Hansen believes that more new nightclubs will open in 2008, reversing a trend of recent years. Most will open in Waikiki and Chinatown, he said.
"There are more people willing to take the risk and open new venues," he said. "That is good for everybody."
And if you go to a club, you can expect more of them to offer free booze. The practice, begun on the Mainland where it catered to an upscale, VIP clientele, is showing up here in the form of an all-comers "cattle call," Hansen said. For the first hour or so at some clubs, certain drinks are free.
"It is pretty crazy," Hansen said. "A year ago, you hardly ever saw it. Now everyone is doing it, and that is a huge trend. I think it speaks more to everybody fighting for business than anything else."
Communicate when-ever, wherever, with personal devices.
An emphasis on strength and quick results will take precedence.
Fashion is going green — with organic materials and those ubiquitous Warrior Ts.
Home style is becoming eco-conscious, with an emphasis on conservation.
Expect more live acts as Hawai'i takes its place on the touring circuit.
Reach Mike Gordon at email@example.com.
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