The Ordinary Futurist: 2010 review of my own predictions in technology

Well, every year I play a game of “What will happen?”  Now, I’m a semi-professional futurist, so you’d think I’d get this right.  But my success rate varies party because futurists aren’t really prognosticators (Nostradamus was not a futurist) and partly because the world is more complex than any of us can follow.  This year wasn’t my most successful move in this game, but I’m going be dutiful and report out anyway.  I did get some of it right. I’m going to break this up into three posts since I have three areas of focus and it would just be too long to do as one post.  Hopefully I’ll get them all out today. So here’s the 2010 review of my predictions in technology:

Prediction: 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

How did I do? I’ll give myself half-right on this.  Yes, more social networking and it’s more important to mainstream (business) concerns.  But I don’t really see the killer geo-aware apps I was expecting.

Prediction: 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.

How did I do? I’m a government CIO, and this has held true for us.  We’re stretching fingers into the cloud and getting them misty, but not flying yet.  Bigger corporations and small young ones that need to be agile have had pretty high adoption rates.  As far as real-world validation, I didn’t find much on the net yet with end of the year adoption figures, but the Business Roundtable posted some statistics that support me – far more people are planning to use cloud tech then are using cloud tech. There are some nice graphics over at Web Analytics World. So I got this one right.

Prediction: 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.

How did I do? Well, I’m still mostly-wrong on this one.  But not entirely; The site Information Systems Innovation has a November 2010 article about RFID in the human body but more of the internet-available information is anti human chipping and a lot of it is bible-belt types talking about RFID as the number of the beast.

Prediction: 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.

How did I do? Well, mostly-right here.  Not spot-on since I think the iPad did even better than I expected.  It delivered at the hype level, and I think the iPad has slowed netbook sales and had little affect on the Kindle (many people own both).

Prediction: 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.

How did I do? I’ll give myself a mostly-right here.  One set of numbers suggests they were at 9% in October.  So the only thing I missed was I just shouldn’t have tacked on that last sentence.  Of course, it could still be right, but I no longer think so.


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