This is a bit of a belated New Year’s post. I’m intending to make predictions, unlike my colleagues Kerry and Paul, as they’ve done a grand job with that. Instead, I’m just going to say what I want to have happened by the time Xmas 2008 rolls around. In no particular order…
- DIY progamming and personalisation – For quite a while, I have been keen on software that lets people who are good problem solvers, but enjoy less fluency in programming languages, create their own software. This really got going for me with the so-called “mashup editors“, such as Teqlo, Google Mashup Editor and Yahoo! Pipes. These are targetted at people with varying technical skills, and are part of a wider set of tools catering right from middle-managers through to more traditional developers. What I want to see in this area is people realising that the problem isn’t solved by helping people reconstruct the same applications over and over – you only need to solve a problem once – but by helping them tweak and personalise the applications to their department, club or business. And this isn’t just about changing colours, it must be easy to change the fields in a database, alter the target of a web service call, change one set of users for another, along with many others.
- Identity – Without wanting to sound like I’m jumping on the proverbial, I think it is essential that the identity debate is sorted out. More specifically, the way things are going there are more independent services that do one thing particularly well. They need to share users and the digital assets belonging to those users, in a secure, seamless and standard way. I happen to hear a lot about Open ID and OAuth, but that doesn’t mean they are the way to go. However it pans out, if I don’t have a single digital identity by the time Xmas 2008 rolls around, I’m going to be pissed.
- Standardisation of interfaces between services – If you’ve ever tried to write a mashup (or anything at all that uses data from two separate sources), odds are that you’ve had to write a mapping between two or more data formats or you’ve created an arbitrary data format yourself you’ve mapped everything to. Does this not strike you as mad? As I indicated above, the web increasingly resembles a series of independent services loosely connected via their back-ends. If we are to support the reconfiguring I mentioned in the first point, the way that data gets shipped between services will have to get a bit more standard. I don’t just mean the question of whether we use RSS or ATOM, but how we represent a person or an event, or a bill. For example, if I want to be able to swap userbases in an application to fit it to my company, that should just work.
- Plasma screens to go away – LCD or Plasma? What a question. It used to seem important, now it doesn’t. Once they sort out LCD’s problems displaying black, there will really be no good reason to buy a plasma screen (except maybe this one).
- Next Generation Gaming taking off – it took two years for games developers to understand how to push the PS2 to the max. XBox and PS3 launched in 2006, so I’m expecting big things by the end of 2008. I plumped for the PS3, believing in the potential of the technology, but it’s telling that I’ve only bought one PS3 game from the shops, Assassin’s Creed (I also bought Okami, the stunner released for the PS2). I also bought the downloadable port of Tekken 5, but you can read this post to see what I think of that.
- Social networking is cracked open – for some reason, I can’t get excited about Open Social. I’m willing to revise my opinion pending some good examples on the ground, but it feels a bit like the sissies ganging up on the bullies in the playground. The big thing with the web over 2007 was social networking in its many forms (from Facebook to Twitter) and by the end of the year, the biggest gripe was that everyone had thrown their information into these networks and couldn’t get it out. Here’s the reason why this has to change: social networks eventually have to start making money. If the networks feel they own the people they will make money at the expense of the people (see Facebook Beacon furor), and then that will push people will leave. It happened to Friendster, it’s happening to MySpace and it can happen to Facebook. As much of a paradox as it sounds, the way to keep people attached to your network is to let them leave. This all relates to the single digital identity discussion above. People talk about “taking their network with them” but what they really mean is letting other networks see what they and their friends are doing, knowing that they won’t lose all their information if their network dies and that they can use other networks as they see fit. I think this means decentralizing the interactions so they happen between people in the network as directly as possible without requiring that we all go via one path. Think email.
Just over 50 weeks left to find out if I’m right… A very belated Happy New Year!