It is the time of the year when futurologists get asked what is lying ahead for the next year. I normally do long term stuff, and I can’t really remember which specific predictions that I wrote for 2011 back in the 90s, but it doesn’t stop people asking. And I’ve had to put together some ideas for occasional media interviews anyway. So here is a quick and dirty, also ran list of things to expect this year.
e-book wars: Kindle v tablets
tablet wars: Google v Microsoft v Apple v Nokia v RIM v Samsung v just about everyone else in the entire IT industry
OS wars: similar list
Digital jewellery: video cameras the size of memory sticks are already here, so we should expect a whole range of tiny devices disguised as jewellery, designed for specific apps.
Near field communications: devices will be able to communicate with each other at high speed over short range. Next gen mobile comms etc.
Maybe NFC doesn’t sound like much more than ongoing incremental improvement on what we already have, but this will also enable a half competent IT company to develop an alternative platform to the web for information distribution , cloud services, file sharing and essentially a parallel web. The advantage of this one potentially is that it would be far easier to hide from state and corporate control. So we should expect it, perhaps this year, and it will give us a whole new front for battles with media companies who have been very successful at forcing governments to help censor the existing web. Government has never really understood cyberspace. Cyberspace is in principle infinite and cannot be limited or censored completely. The www is only one specific cyberspace platform, and indeed so also is the entire comms network on which it runs. There are an infinite number of ways to skin this particular cat and NFC enables quite a few of them. I’d call it the undernet or the underweb or the backweb or blacknet or the subnet or something like that, but these terms are already spoken for, so maybe you can think up a new term for journos to use when it arrives. Physically, expect wireless USB sticks and stuff like that, that can freely exchange data as people walk past each other in the high street.
Speaking of mobile comms, this year we will finally see the extraordinarily belated arrival of the charger that will work with any mobile phone – well any new one anyway, well, most new ones. Sadly, this is just one standard among a vast range that we need, and we shouldn’t expect too many others to arrive. Industry still generally thinks that launching incompatible ranges for any new technology is still the best approach.
Socially, technology has been slow to impress on most people, but now that millions are using Facebook and other social tools, the web is ripening fast as a political platform. So far there have been some minor uses to coordinate demos or to campaign, but it is safe to say that the vast political potential the web offers has so far only had its surface scratched. But as people become familiar, as they carry the web with them all day long, and as they are more aware of its potential, and as they get increasingly frustrated with their so-called leaders on many fronts, the curves are almost ready to intersect.
Of course there will be many other things coming too, but are written about abundantly elsewhere. And I’m still not awake enough yet to be bothered duplicating it all here. A few interesting specifics will make it as blog entries later when I have more energy.
Happy new year.