The Ordinary Futurist: 2011 Predictions

Every year I play a predictions game.  It’s not really good futuring since the world is way too strange for prediction except by true experts in a field, and I’m a generalist.  But I still like the game.  So here goes:

Publishing and Creativity:

Preface to this section.  I’m playing here, and frankly the book publishing   landscape is shifting so fast it’s hard to tell what will happen.  I’m making predictions based on a year of avid reading about this stuff, but the book market is crazy enough I am probably  dead wrong.

  • Ebooks will keep up their relentless march to take over print.  They’ll be at or near 20% of the market next year.  25% isn’t unreasonable
  • Print book sales will fall by 5 to 7% (to some extent ebook sales will spur regular book sales).  Note that I think this means there will more total book sales than there were in 2010.
  • We are likely to lose Borders as a major outlet.
  • I can’t put a number on it, but there will be more attempts to make good franchises with rich multimedia (like Greg Bear and Neal Stephenson’s Mongolaid).  I doubt there will be a lot of uptake yet, but I’m not firm on this.  One major success could drive this market.  I just kind of expect the major success will happen after 2011.  What I mean is Twilight or Harry Potter like sales of something interactive and multimedia but that is not a movie or a mash up of marketing with a book.  I’d love to be wrong (to have this happen in 2011) since whenever this happens it will be fun to watch.

Altogether, this is not a bad market for writers and creatives – but its a huge change in a short time and the fleet of foot with technology will win as long as they also produce good product.


We’re due for some wake up on climate change.  Unless nature itself pushes us even harder than it has been, there are slim chances of the wake-up happening now.  Still, it’s more likely that we pay attention to climate and energy in 2011 than in 2012, since 2012 will be full of the theater of the election.  But to be honest, I think as long as climate change is gradual and each individual event could be “normal” this is like being a frog in a pot of water set to boil – we just aren’t likely to notice in time.  So my prediction is that we keep making progress, but that our gains are way less than we need them to be.  In other words, we make headway, but the problem gets worse.

The economy will get better, but unevenly.  I actually expect the Seattle economy to do pretty well, and in fact most of the technology and entertainment fields to do well.  Well means forward progress, not bubbles or even ecstatic growth.  But I suspect unemployment and a tough housing market to be problems all year, with  minor progress on both.  The middle of the country will not fare as well as the coasts, and a traveler might feel like they are going through different worlds as they go from one side of the country to the other.

I don’t see anything to make our politics get better. 2011 will be a year of continued divide, of set-up for next year’s elections, of little to no progress on much of anything that matters.  Let’s hope I’m wrong.  It’s still unclear to me what Wilkileaks will do to politics and governance, but it is porbably a major a game-changer. To some extent it increases transparency, which I believe is good.  But it is also theft and disrespect, which are not so good.  It’s also bad for order, and we need order to solve the problems we have right now.


I think it’s a give-me prediction that we’ll continue to see e-readers and tablets do well, that the three major ecosystems (android, apple, and Microsoft) will continue to grow, and that consumers will align around them.

More cloud computing adoption will war with the major broadband providers desire to charge differentiating fees, and net neutrality will be lost unless the major cloud providers (Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Oracle) somehow get on the bandwagon where they should be.   At the moment, it appears that the major carries like Comcast and Verizon are poised for the win.   The telco’s are too big for regulatory bodies to fight alone – they’re nasty and richand have a LOT of lawyers. This is really, really important.

Social media is ready for the growth curve to slow.  I predict more growth, but less than in 2010.

Okay – I’ll stop here lest I end up with even more posts required to look at how I did at the end of the year (it took three this year).

Whatever happens, I wish everyone a good 2011.  Much of the outside news doesn’t feel great, but that’s no reason not to grow and change in good ways as individuals and communities.

1 thought on “The Ordinary Futurist: 2011 Predictions”

  1. Hello,

    I work for the PeaceJam Foundation and we have been working with Mayan Nobel Peace Laureate Rigoberta Menchu Tum for 15 years.

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    Can you let your readership know about this?


    Ivan Suvanjieff
    PeaceJam Foundation
    11200 Ralston Rd
    Arvada CO 80004
    303 455-2099

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