We humans sure love predictions. Whether it’s pea-brained ex-jocks on ESPN making erroneous picks or your local weatherman missing temperatures and precipitation by a veritable gulf stream, we seemingly shrug at or forget the inexactitude of it all. Same goes for the unnecessary need to predict What’s Next in Technology at the end of every year.
I don’t seem to recall any supposed experts in the mainstream accurately predicting, in a year’s time frame, the rise of the Internet itself, blogs, social media or just about any other major development. So in the spirit of The Simpsons‘ Professor Frink (who predicted in the 1970s that within 100 years, computers will be twice as powerful, 10,000 times larger, and so expensive that only the five richest kings of Europe will own them), here are my top five fearless predictions for 2009 in the Web world:
1) Facebook will continue growing, with Facebook Connect bringing a whole new wave of popularity.
2) Twitter’s meteoric rise will continue, albeit not on the same level indefinitely.
3) It will become increasingly apparent that MySpace’s cultural relevancy has peaked.
4) Mobile Internet devices will become increasingly key in the marketplace (if not necessarily in the minds of Web developers).
5) Some completely unforeseen social-media community/platform/application will come out of nowhere to become the next phenomenon.
Really going out on a limb, eh? Well, why would I? No one really knows what will happen in the world of the Internet in the coming year, and most so-called expert predictions will prove as wrong as those who had the Dallas Cowboys winning this year’s Super Bowl.
But here’s my real advice: Instead of focusing on what technology may be on the horizon, anyone trying to auger the future should focus on people. Not hardware or software. What made YouTube a sensation? People sharing crazy things with other people. Why did social media like Facebook and Twitter put up big numbers this year? People wanted to connect with other people. If you want to know where the Internet is going, just look at what people find useful, helpful or beneficial. It’s that simple.
Best wishes to you and your, well, people for a wonderful 2009.