Today, I had the good fortune of catching a bite to eat with two of our younger team members. In the midst of our chow mein and orange chicken, I decided to open my gift of mass-produced Chinese wisdom…my fortune cookie.

It’s not often that I actually get a fortune that’s worth sharing, without the words “in bed” muttered afterwards, but this one was rather poignant for a tech PR guy. It read:

“Be innovative, take charge of new ideas. 6-24-32-36-45”

Lucky numbers aside (they failed to win tonight), it’s a rather powerful statement. Many people like to think they’re innovative, when they marginally improve an old idea, but it’s still an old idea. True innovation lies in discovering something completely new, and owning it, developing it, and making it something that actually has an impact.

I had a discussion with one of my lunch buddies about where we thought the biggest social media innovation will lie in 2011. We jarred about a few simple improvements to existing platforms, but one thing really stood out.

Video.

With the introduction of cellphones with HD capabilities, Flip cameras for under $100, and laptops that have built in video chat utilities, video is likely to be the next platform to spark true innovation. It’s attainable and becoming more user-friendly and will quickly be a part of our instant-consumption or broadcast culture.

So, along the lines of owning ideas, we decided to come up with the top 3 ideas for applications that we could see in the next year:

  1. Video micro-bloggingTwitter entered us into an age of the 140 character text posts about where we are, and what we’re doing/thinking/consuming. Video provides us with the immediacy of thought, without having to type. Qik is a good start, and likely we’ll see a video-only platform for micro-blogging coming forth soon.
  2. Contextual video search – Sure, you can Google for videos, but wouldn’t it be great if the videos were actually crawled by the bots to let you search the content of the video? Live transcoding and speech-recognition captioning will easily make this dream a reality.
  3. eLearning 2.0 – For a few years, teachers have been searching for ways to improve distance learning opportunities for students who live in remote locations, or are on non-traditional schedules. Companies like Adobe, Citrix and Cisco have developed excellent collaboration platforms, but something needs to involve student participation, private video groups and the ability to manage assignments for individual classes/sections. Incorporating the best of social media with the immediacy of video consumption will help provide better student outcomes and create new co-learning opportunities.

These are our preliminary ideas for what’s on the horizon. What do you think? Where’s the next big idea?

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