I just spent the weekend in Jacksonville Florida working with leading brand thinker, futurist and copy writing goddess Sally Hogshead. I also spent some time working with a leading Jacksonville agency on planning their web 2.0 strategy. In our discussions of the future, one of the recurring themes was what what does an ad agency of the future look like? And what services will it provide.

Then I read my feed from educational/learning futurist D’Arcy Norman, and he’s asking the same questions: only about organizations centered around higher learning. Call it synchronicity, call it karma- just don’t ignore it. Here is what was on D’Arcy’s mind about membership in professional organizations:

On the changing role of the Organization - D’Arcy Norman dot net
We talked about the issues related to membership in the organization for some time. Each time we discussed it, we came back to a single conclusion - we don’t need an organization to provide infrastructure to allow us to connect with others anymore. We are fully able to make these connections on our own, as we have been doing anyway. The informal, direct connections made between individuals are much more valuable than organizationally-fostered ones, at least in my experience.

I really don’t think we need many of these organizations any more. It would be better to allocate the resources locally, while using these great “web 2.0″ tools and social networks to build connections. Maybe an occasional conference, more akin to Northern Voice than to these giant organizational conferences, in order to provide a venue for face-to-face interaction.

In an era of decentralization and individually generated and managed content, the role of the central organization should be changing. To what? I’m not sure. But it’s no longer necessary as a broker to connect individuals and groups.

Is the idea of an agency still relevant? Can teams of freelance talent give you better advice? Do we need physical offices to engage in the process of creating content in a digital world?

I’m not sure I have the answers anymore than D’Arcy is- but I do know that digital virtual tools can create connections more efficiently than ever before. And when you get to the heart of marketing- it’s all about making connections.