Brenda Cooper

An Ordinary Futurist Predicts 2010 Events

After evaluating my predictions from last year (which were in three separate posts to start with), I decided to keep it simple.  Remember that futurists have no crystal ball and I can no more tell you what a stock will be on a given day than a séance leader can.  We can see trends. We usually can’t see the things that knock us off our expectations (like Twitter).  But hey, this is a bit of fun to have.  Put keep in mind – this an educated guess at what will happen, and it’s not exactly what should happen (that’s another post).

Technology trends:

  • Even more social networking.   Plus, social networking gets more synched with physical space (geo-aware applications like Foursquare but more useful).  Immediate opportunities to help a neighbor, great business deals close to where I am standing, someone with interests a lot like mine in the same coffee shop. Etc.
  • The cloud takes over more of our personal storage and backup, but doesn’t make it very far into the enterprise yet.  We enterprise CIO’s watch it and poke it and maybe try a bit here and there, but we don’t drink the kool-aid.  Yet.  We will.  Just not so much in 2010.
  • I know I said this last year, but I think people will choose to be chipped in certain situations, like when they are travelling overseas, when they have certain medical conditions, etc.  Soldiers and criminals may get chipped, too.
  • The apple tablet will actually appear (and I’ll buy one).  It will have been at least slightly over-hyped but as apps get released it will be well-loved by gamers, readers, students, and field people.  It won’t replace the netbook or the notebook generally, but it might be a great substitute for the Kindle.
  • eBooks will be near 10% of book sales by the end of the year.  This is a phenomenal amount of growth –  they are about 1.5% of the market now.  BTW – I think it growth in this sector might slow down again for a bit after that.

Society and Government

  • The hard-line Iranian government will fall, and some confusion will follow.  This will help in Iran, although it won’t solve all of the problems.
  • China will see more protests about a variety of things (not sure, though, what they will do about it – I don’t see an Iran-like situation but more continued flexibility).
  • The US will have tighter working relationships with Canada, and maybe with Mexico.   Changes to NAFTA may be talked about seriously and tied loosely to immigration discussions
  • Once Health care is passed (or not), attention will be split between changes in energy use and more anti-terrorism measures.  These are, of course, tightly linked.  People will begin to see the linkage more clearly.
  • Iraq will feel like a memory, but Afghanistan – not so much.  The usual war-hungry republicans will try to take Obama down through his position on Afghanistan, but what they’ll really do is save him from immolation by the democrats for his position of Afghanistan.  In other words, politics as usual.  Whatever the party in power is doing will be slammed by the party that’s out of power, even if it’s their usual MO.   We will stay ridiculously divided across senseless lines of red and blue light.

Climate Change / related topics

  • While we’ll probably continue to flail politically, green business will rise out of the recession and start to make it less of a political issue.  After all, who needs to mandate things people are making money on?  Success stories:  conservation, green transportation (smaller and electric cars), and – at least in 2010 – less needless consumption.
  • I’m going to re-make last year’s prediction.  In some areas at least, things will get worse.  I don’t know if it will be drought, hurricanes, ocean carbon, or ice melt, but the Earth is reacting faster than we expect it to.  More extremes.
  • Smart grid will be the buzzword of the year, and a big business opportunity.  Mostly still in large projects and on corporate campuses, rather than on the national public grid.
  • The percent of people who believe climate change is happening will rise again, approaching 70% again (as of October 2009, it was measured at 57%).

What do you think will happen?  What did I miss or get wrong?  Anyone got a different number for ebooks?

7 Responses so far

  1. 1. Bill Schrier

    An interesting set of ideas, Brenda. Nothing about improved citizen engagement through social media, e.g. more data (and which kinds) accessible via data.gov, or maybe more web-based council meetings or video conferencing.
    Another interesting set of potential changes regard healthcare and medicine – this month’s National Geographic had some surprises about how advanced it is. As an aging baby boomer I’d like to see those sooner, rather than later.
    Thanks.
    Bill

  2. 2. brenda

    I could write a whole post on citizen engagement. I care about it. I feel like most citizens don’t, or we’d have more engagement. I’m hoping we make progress this year!
    By the way, thanks for the RT.
    And…I agree. Lots of interesting stuff in medicine and health. And I too wonder if I’ll live long enough to benefit from it. Guess I better go to the gym tomorrow. 🙂

  3. 3. Kurt Johnson

    Surveys show consistently that the state of the economy and the public perception about the condition of the economy are huge issues which drive decisions made about both business development and public policy. The issue even drives technological development and where such notions as climate change appear on the list of important issues. What should move to the center of that discussion is the matter of the increasing economic hiatus between the “haves” and “have-nots).

  4. 4. brenda

    Yes – the divide is huge, and scary. And we need to change it. On the plus side (which is NO excuse for the state of poverty or the failure of real wages to rise or of employment to be available to all etc.) some of the people with massive wealth (Gates, Branson, Buffet etc.) are putting that wealth to solving problems governments won’t or can’t. That may be more meaningful to us than we think. And the Gates’s at least are working to make much of the worst poverty go away.

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