The impact that 2015 will have on us, depending on how and where we stand in our lives, is on my mind as I prepare to launch my new thriller, THE FACES IN THE RAIN.

Having written a thriller (not yet published) where Allison, my guileless heroine faces questions of identity and privacy, while being caught up in African ivory smuggling, forces me to ponder where these vectors will lead people like Allison (and me) in 2015. Of course it’s all a big unknown–which is what makes writing about it so fun–though what is certain is that these subjects, especially, will change dramatically over the next twelve months. Here are my thoughts about where we’re headed and how Allison might be impacted. As Bette Davis said…

2015 trends in Social Media: 

When African communities share the bell patterns (rhythms) that distinguish them, the neighboring communities benefit. This openness says: we are different–but not very different, because what we have in common is the language of bell patterns, written in rhythmic sentences. We acknowledge that you are different too. Allison and her unlikely comrade Sipho, an African street vendor operating a stand in midtown, New York City find their common ground when they talk about their differing understanding of musical rhythm.

Listen (below) to these ancient rhythms–they informed jazz, rock and many other musical genres.

Similarly, the trend in social media this year will be better tools to manage what we choose to be exposed to on-line; tools to cut through the noise and find the bell patterns we want in our lives. Our preferences will form into virtual sects and social on-line norms will emerge that are peculiar to the things we care about. Those who define themselves and communicate wisely, will find significant value in sharing within their communities. Open source and crowdsourcing will continue to mature. Health care and medical research, for example, will benefit from crowd information.

Question: Can you access your medical records on-line, and how do you feel about sharing your medical information, provided your identity is not revealed? What is your doctor’s opinion of this?

2015 trends in music:

How do the changes in on-line music influence Allison’s life? How does our interface with music change in 2015? Live performance and streaming services will expose people to an increasingly diverse array of music and artists. I have discovered more new (and old) artists through Pandora than I have in the last 20 years of buying CDs. I am also better informed about the artists I listen to because of, what used to be called liner notes. These biographies are excellent. Algorithms have steered me to artists like Amy Winehouse whose CD I would never have bought, because I didn’t know about her. Now I listen to her immense talent on my iPhone, made all the more poignant in the context of her tragic life–may she rest in peace.

Amy Winehouse.
Amy Winehouse.

Algorithms will get smarter and we’ll have more parameters to select the type music we want to hear. I’d like to say: find me artists like Amy Winehouse, but with Alicia Keys arrangements and lyrics as smart as Joan Armatrading songs. That would be a channel!

Technology will advance in helping musicians and composers like Allison. The mechanics of music composition will be accessible to people without formal training; at least, they’ll be able to use the hammer and nails, but the creative input will still be a cerebral process. See how Hyperscore has been used since 2008 when this TED talk was recorded. Composers like Allison will be exposed to the thinking of her colleagues through Podcasts like Composers at Play.

Also, look to the music industry if you want to see what could happen to book publishing. Multimedia books will advance, and eventually books will be a chamber, a manifold of converged media experiences–which is not to say good writing will matter less; without it the reader’s imagination will be starved. Converged media should never become spoon-feeding. Will this gain momentum in 2015? Maybe not, but look for the beginnings from forward-looking publishers.

Question: How do you listen to music? What do you do visually while you listen?

The African Elephant in 2015:

The struggle continues to save the the African elephant. Luminaries such as Prince William are raising the awareness.

THE INDEPENDENT. The first reference I have seen associating cybercrime with the illegal ivory trade.


This article covers the core issues: “Traffickers are taking advantage of globalisation, hiding within the huge flows of goods across borders and exploiting technology – from helicopters and precision weapons to the borderless market of the internet.”

“A report published last month found an elephant was worth 76 times more alive than dead. Ivory from one elephant sells on the black market for about £13,500, while a live animal generates about £1m through tourism, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Fund.”

 (THE INDEPENDANT – Jan 15, 2015.)

Trend on the upside: is doing something about it. This will be influential on young, affluent Chinese citizens.


Six technology themes to watch in 2015: 

Technology themes in THE FACES IN THE RAIN are introduced when Allison loses her phone (1), through no fault of her own.  Although she previously had her identity stolen (2), she is confident that the musicians with whom she collaborates will be safe, thanks to her code that makes her, and them, anonymous (3). Sadly, the cyber criminals (4) are better coders. CIA agents call her an Obfuscator. As she gets deeper into trouble she must weigh the value of her privacy (5) against the pressure on her to relinquish it for the greater good which is at odds with her newfound, on-line authenticity (6). These six themes play out everyday in news headlines. Below is my take on how these themes will trend in 2015. (Each of these is a massive subject and deserves it own blog, so please stay tuned for future updates.) Here are the facets:

  1. Possession and ownership of data: In 2015, people will begin to understand the difference…
  2. Identity Theft: Not a question of if, but when, in one form or another.
  3. Anonymity: The flight to hide-in-plain-sight will increase. See the Wired article.
  4. Cybercrime: More, better organized, and weaponized… See Mary Galligan’s comments on Bloomberg,
  5. Privacy and encryption: Users will be torn between openness and privacy. Multiple factor authentication will become normal. Law enforcement will resist encryption. See point #3.
  6. On-line authenticity: …will bring value to crowdsourced solutions. Authentic ideas will attract followers.

Question: Do you use two factor authentication? Do you use a different password for every registration on-line? How often do you change your passwords? Do you only use strong passwords? You should.

Have a great year, and please join this blog, click on the links (all verified as safe) and comment. Updates on the above topics and on my writing life will be posted weekly. Thank you.

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8 years ago

So true. Everything is coded. They, who ever “they” is today, know what you purchase, where you are, if you are near a specific venue, where you eat, what books you buy, or take out of a library, or watch on TV, and in 2015 “they” will start to peek into your refrigerator. Are you running out of milk? Or, that the yogurt is no longer fresh.
And, the “they” doesn’t have to be any thing or entity with sinister intent. Some group like Amazon. It could be your neighbor’s teenage kid who spends too much time behind a monitor. Or, it could be the NSA because you Googled how to make a bomb and AQAP.
The question over the next few years will be, “how do I live a modern life and remain off the information grid?

Geoffrey Wells
Geoffrey Wells
Reply to  BillS
8 years ago

Thanks for your reply. Your question is pertinent to the on-going debate. My question is: how do we define “I”? When you say–you–want to remain off the information grid, what part of you are you referring to? Your data or your identity? Or both? Is it really possible to live a “modern life” without the information grid? Depends on what modern means. Certainly Allison asks herself this question when she is abducted and finds herself alone, deep in Tanzania.
Here’s an excerpt from FACES IN THE RAIN: She knew, standing there, unsteady on her feet, pale as the vast bleached sky, exhausted as the grass in the scorched drifts, that she could no longer rely on anyone. Georgina’s stern guidance that she took for granted, was gone. Her social network was as parched as the acacia thorn trees that punctuated the miles on this taught, arid landscape. Her Facebook friends posted vacuous statements, devoid of meaning and dry, like the windswept riverbeds that held nothing but stones and broken trees. All she longed for was her apartment in New York, for the hum of its quiet afternoons, for the view of the street below, with its funneled brittle winter wind that blew across the Hudson River.

8 years ago

Reblogged this on Visible Spectrum.

Geoffrey Wells
Geoffrey Wells
Reply to  Ciaopiazza
8 years ago

Thanks Cynthia. I love your blog — especially your sketches.

8 years ago

[…] had the pleasure of talking to Sophocles Papavasilopoulos on a podcast of Composers at Play. On a previous post I mentioned this interesting series about composers who also perform. At my suggestion, Sophocles […]

8 years ago

[…] the beginning of the year I published my blog on what was trending in 2015. If you were following me then, you might recall that these were my predictions on music, social […]

8 years ago

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