For the record, I am not into astrology. However, I am an Aquarius, and that is germane to today's post. The show in the sky that started last night – known as “The Great Conjunction” – has captured my attention, along with millions of other residents of our third rock from the sun.
In effect, the planets are lining up – specifically Jupiter and Saturn – creating a spectacle in the night sky. It's the first time the two planets appear to be so close in nearly 400 years. And many wizened observers of the stars say this could be a new dawning of the Age of Aquarius. (And here I thought that was just an old Fifth Dimension song.)
This rare alignment also falls on the Winter Solstice, another interesting astrological fact. And according to several sources, this event might signify changes in our world – especially in the area of technology.
Well + Good spoke with five astrologers to get a glimpse of what the coming year might bring. Perhaps the most interesting is Alex Caiola, the self-described High Priestess of Brooklyn (pictured right) who offers this prediction:
“(In 2020) we’ve become less reliant on traditional structures, like going into an office from nine to five, and more reliant on technology and flexibility to progress. This has really positive connotations, like being able to instantly benefit from collective information or connect with those in far-away lands.”
If that doesn't sound like a charge to better understand technology in the new year, then I'm not doing a great job of connecting the celestial dots. Plus, who knew the boroughs even had priestesses?
Without getting too spacey on you, it's hard to ignore the astrological message embedded in “The Great Conjunction:”
Go to CES 2021.
Of course, it's easier said than done, because just like everything else since the COVID outbreak, things are going to be different in Las Vegas early next month – the place and time when this year's mass gathering always takes place.
As I now look back on the last decade or so of CES events, there is absolutely no social distancing. When you're crammed together with 180,000 other tour goers in Sin City for four days, it just cannot possibly work given the environmental conditions and health risks we all take.
So, CTA – the Consumer Technology Association – has decided to try a first ever virtual CES. And while they have been our tour partners the past five years, they will be too focused on simply pulling off this massive undertaking to dilute their efforts by organizing virtual hikes this year.
No matter. That's where we come in.
For CES 2021, your friends at Jacobs Media are going virtual, too. And while there are limitations because we'll be looking at technology and talking with experts on our screens, other very important doors will open.
In the past, most of those who tagged along on our tours were broadcast executives with the resources – the time and money – to make it possible. That meant small numbers of people traipsing around the Las Vegas Convention Center, with the rest of you having to attend our webinars or follow the news closely from CNET, TechCrunch, and other sites.
But next month, we're inviting all of you to join us on the afternoon of Wednesday, January 13th – the final day of CES 2021 – for a tour unlike any other we've put together.
Every great adventure needs a great guide. And we've partnered with Shawn DuBravac, former chief economist for CTA, and a fantastic CES guide. Many of you have met Shawn on our tours and at radio events these past few years. He has the unique ability to connect those dots between what's happening at CES and what it will mean to radio broadcasters in the coming years. He is truly the best in class.
We're hoping many more of you will be able to join us for this year's journey. It will require a lot less time and hassle, and it will certainly cost a lot less money.
The only fee for our tour (which does not include or require a CES 2021 registration) is just $99.
We'll hold that rate until Ryan Seacrest wishes us all a Happy New Year at the stroke of midnight. From then on, the price increases to $149 – still a sweet deal.
Why is gaining a perspective at CES 2021 so important this year?
We're looking at 2021 as a time of renewal, reinvigoration, and reinvention. In other words, a time for optimism – in both our personal and professional lives. So much about the new year promises to be different, and we feel the need to help tee it up – identifying the challenges and the opportunities we'll be facing starting next month.
Paul, Shawn, and I are putting together the agenda, making sure we check off the key boxes so important to broadcasters on their journey ahead – automotive, voice, mobile, home entertainment, virtual reality, and other areas of significance. We are lining up at least one auto manufacturer, and Amazon has signed on to provide the latest and greatest on Alexa technology.
We have a lot of questions to answer in this year where the pandemic will subside, the economy will recover, and life will hopefully become more “normal.”
What will be happening on the automotive front, as more and more of us return to our cars?
How will voice change the ways and locations in which consumers call up content?
In what ways will virtual technologies impact the way we interact with each other and conduct business?
How will the worlds of television and video affect our industry, and how can radio take advantage of the revolution, from TikTok to OTT?
In short, what does the future portend?
As he does most years, the CTA's CEO, Gary Shapiro (pictured below right), will greet our virtual tourists and help us set the agenda for what to expect at Virtual CES 2021.
And the President and CEO of the NAB, Gordon Smith, will sit down with us to talk about the road ahead for radio in the world of technology, as well as the changing environment in Washington, D.C.
This will be a very different tour, of course. We won't be able to walk right up to an exhibit in person. But we will be able to freely and more efficiently move from point A to point B. And we will be able to speak directly with technologists and developers, ask them questions, and learn more about what's coming next – without sore feet and from the comfort of our homes or offices.
If you've never been to CES, our Jacobs VIRTUAL Tour is the next best thing. And we'll be using a virtual platform that will make it easy for us to not only tour you around the sites and sounds of CES, but to also interact with one another. It's called Remo, and it's as easy to use as Zoom, but simulates an actual conference.
We will be using virtual 8-top tables (unassigned – so you can move around the “room”). And we'll also have time for sponsor visits in “booths” along the perimeter. Our title sponsors are Xperi and Triton – both CES veterans. And we'll be partnered once again with Erica Farber and the RAB as we have on past Jacobs CES tours. We're proud to have them all on board.
We're all trying to see around the corner. As many of you know, Jacobs Media has been deeply immersed in technology for more than a couple decades, encouraging (and yes, cajoling) the radio broadcasting industry to embrace technology changes that affect consumers – the ways and means in which they entertain and inform themselves.
CES has played a major role in our education – a unique opportunity at the start of each year to gain an understanding of what's next. Our friend and mentor, Jerry Lee, who has attended this event – every year – for more than half a century explains his rationale this way:
“I don't want to miss the future.”
CES is a table-setter for the new year – a chance to be inspired by the innovation, the technology, yes, the toys, and what it all means to us in the days, months, and years ahead.
And it's now accessible to everybody, whether you're a CEO or the night jock on a music station.
Not to get all Shakespearian on you, but as those planets line up in the night skies, the Bard reminds us that our futures are most definitely in our control, not left up to fate. Whether you are confident about the year ahead, or you feel you need a jumpstart on the new year, start 2021 off with us.
And bring along your team and your key staffers along for the ride. This is the perfect way to put the new year in perspective, planning and plotting out a more optimistic future for radio and for your organization.