2008 Predictions: History Repeating

The word is about, there’s something evolving
Whatever may come, the world keeps revolving
They say the next big thing is here
That the revolution’s near
But to me it seems quite clear
That it’s all just a little bit
of history repeating
– History Repeating, Shirley Bassey

I love this song for two reasons: First, it’s Shirley Bassey. How could you possibly go wrong with that? Second, it’s because this song itself was the subject of the very topic we talk about a lot: remixing.

Sound familiar? It should — we’re doing the same thing online every day.

The Propellerheads did a fantastic job with this song on theirdecksandrumsandrockandroll album back in 1998 (has it been 10 years already?) — take an existing song, add in some of the “new sound”, and make it their own. Am I the only one who thinks this is a mashup?

And that’s the theme of my prediction, which is as much of an anti-prediction as anything else. We aren’t going to see anything in 2008 that’s truly “new”. Re-envisioned, remixed, remashed, reclaimed, re-edited, rebuilt, but nothing we haven’t already seen before.

Some specific points to think about:

  • Silverlight
    As much as Microsoft wants this to be a Flash-killer, they’ve got a very long way to go in proving the technology … and making the massive inroads into the development world to make people want to switch away.
  • Bandwidth
    Until everyone gets T3-capable access to their home (read: definitely not in 2008 despite Verizon’s rollout of FiOS), we’ll be dealing with cable/DSL-level speeds.
  • Mobile/Wireless (aka Impact of the iPhone)
    North America as a whole still has a long way to go to even begin to act in the way that Korea and Japan take for granted. Europe is much closer, but the impact is still slow-moving (due to all the various carriers). And I hope that mobile data gets cheaper in Canada.
  • Device independence
    Mostly a buzzword — any decently-designed (technically and creatively) application is already independent. It’s when we get caught up in how it looks in a desktop browser that things get dicey.
  • China’s rise in internet dominance
    There are already more broadband users in China than there are people living in the US. Not a prediction, it’s fact. And it’s only going to get bigger and more important. Blame Google and Yahoo! if you want, but they saw the light before you did.
  • Web 3.0
    Let’s be honest, we don’t even know what Web 3.0 is yet. It could be argued it’s already here, but it took two years for Web 2.0 to begin to catch on. We’re still a-ways from the next-next generation.
  • OLPC
    Personally, I love this idea. Even Critical Mass participated. But will it really make the difference we hope for? Maybe. But (and this is the prediction) only if the support exists to have the systems catch on in popularity and use. Or they’ll just end up as another Newton.
  • Open source continues to gain popularity
    Why do you think Steve Ballmer picks fights with it so much? OSS continues to make dents in Microsoft’s bottom line. Companies like IBM, Sun, and Apple are behind it. OSS isn’t going away, that’s for certain.
  • Exo-browser applications
    People have designed many applications to work outside browsers (the widget craze, for example), but they haven’t caught on tremendously (even on widget-enabled systems, like Mac OS X and Windows Vista). Focus will remain on browser-based applications.
  • Google
    Despite some shifts in business (releasing Android and taking on the telcos in wireless), Google will remain the dominant search engine for North America. Expect Google to make more inroads in China. Also expect a couple of surprise announcements/applications — that’s Google’s MO.
  • Browser War
    Snore. Firefox 3 will supplant Firefox 2. IE8 will come out, but probably won’t have any more affect (yes, affect) than IE7 (which only eclipsed IE6 in the last two months, despite being out for over a year). A non-event.
  • Digital advertising
    Will only get bigger and more invasive as we figure out how to do better ads. More bleeding into the offline world, such as interactive TV, with greater integration with tracking.
  • We’ll know everything about you
    If you’re on digital TV, we already know. Otherwise, we’re going to find out. Privacy doesn’t stop digital agencies needing to know demographics so we can plan our campaigns.

Yes, you can say that I’m “playing it safe” with these. They’re not traditional predictions that can call for massive change. Hence why I wrote these — I’m not seeing massive change. I’m seeing more status quo than anything else. Maybe 2008 will be a little dull…

…or maybe, this will be the year of reflection: How have we gotten here? What do we have in our little bag of tricks? What works, what doesn’t, what should be dropped and forgotten, and what are we missing?

Maybe, if there is one outlandish prediction I can make that I hope will be true: This will be the year we figure out what’s missing, and start to figure out what it will take to get us there.

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