I have been reading the trendwatching newsletter for just a few months, but it has become a monthly religious experience for me. It takes maybe 10 minutes to read, but I find myself clicking on lots of the links to check them out first hand, so it is more like 15-20 minutes. Not bad for such a great tool. Basically, the site identifies an emerging trend and discusses it, citing many examples. It is hard to describe briefly, so go to the site and read one or two of them for yourself. You will see what I mean.
This month's trend is "Customer-Made", discussing all of the companies that have created some way for customers to participate intimately in the design process. The companies range from high tech to simple retail and all over the world. I plan to use this as a motivator to the students in my Human Factors class to pick their own design projects in the Fall, instead of giving them one myself. It is not a trend I didn't already know about, but reading all of the ways it is being implemented was very informative and really amazed me both at how innovative the participating customers are as well as how great this is for the companies that do it.