Tuesday, December 14, 2010

At some point in the near future ...

OK, the New Year is fast approaching, and it is time for the prognosticators to roll out the crystal ball and gaze into the future. Well, I’m as prognostic as anyone around here, so here goes.

First a comment about the “news business.” You know the newspapers, network television news, and those radio updates on the 20’s. Well, as anyone will tell you, they’re DEAD. Better toss in the flowers and start filling the grave. Free news from the Wall Street Journal and NY Times, not much longer. You have to pay to play. Besides, with all the changes in the news business over the last few decades, from the USA Today with its four brightly colored sections to — gasp — the Wall Street Journal getting color to the NY Times charging for on-line subscriptions (coming soon) to the news on your Kindle — Nook — Aluratech — Kobo — Apple Bookshelf… What, the advertising model isn’t working?

And what about that advertising model. Anybody notice how a nice set of messenger, email, and other Windows apps were taken out of Win 7 and now they are downloaded under the banner “Live” which really means “Google isn’t the only one that can sell advertising with their free content.”

The news business has changed a lot in the computer age. “Reporter,” “columnist” and “letter to the editor” now sound strangely quaint. They’ve been quickly — and sometimes too eagerly — supplanted by the technocratic “content generator,” “blogger” and “online message board.”

New-media marketing wizards advance the notion of “communities” engaged in “crowd sourcing” through Twitter, Facebook and other “social media.” The mass media, invented by our grandparents’ generation, have fallen out of fashion; in a world of customized information, there are no mass markets.

Significantly, anonymity, in the form of online “handles” (a CB radio term that’s been revived by the online “citizens’ band”), is the norm for the new media. With this trend, regrettably, the news business has shelved the traditional journalistic practice of squeezing a full name, title and company affiliation out of anyone seeking to post a comment in an online community.

And what about Fox and MSNBC? Why don’t they follow the example of James Carville and Mary Matalin and just get a room!!

So, what are the trends to follow (other than 3D TV for the masses)? Here it comes folks. My predictions for 2011 (or shortly thereafter).

((All warranties, implied and explicit, are hereafter denied and if you or your impossible mission team are captured, then the secretary will deny any existence of the hereafter. This warranty will self destruct in 10 seconds.))

1. I’ve already written about the Microsoft Kinect and how I think it will revolutionize the computer / human interface. Watch for “gesture recognition” coming to a computer near you soon. The little webcam will be replaced by a sophisticated vision system and you won’t need a mouse, or trackball, or touch pad, (or little red eraser on the IBM laptop), or even my favorite: the joy stick. No, I see in the crystal ball we’ll just be waving our hands and the computer will move the cursor. Add speech recognition to replace the keyboard, and the newest computer won’t have any buttons at all. You just clap-on and clap-off.

2. The Google Power Meter. With this app, you can monitor all your personal energy use and calculate your carbon footprint to the millimeter. I predict a new class of zombies who just watch the meter spin on their home power and wonder who is watching the TV, and why is that light still on in the bathroom.

3. Apple has a great big bull’s eye painted on its back. Expect heavy competition in areas such as smart phones and touch pads, ala the iPhone and iPad. Now that doesn’t even require a crystal ball. Apple will move to a new network provider in 2011 (hear that Verizon?), but just as with the PC, it will have to settle for a solid 20% of the market as the open competition and lower prices move market share to the clones. Not that Apple is altogether upset about that. They will still be rolling the money in faster than Steve Jobs can change turtlenecks.

4. As someone who has some experience requesting medical records be sent from one doctor to another using, get ready, here it comes, a FAX !!! No, no, no! Medical records will all be digitized and you’ll carry them around in your smart phone. May not happen in 2011, but when it does, you’ll remember I predicted it first. (And I predict a booming market for PGP as people want those records encrypted!) P.S. Your credit card too, and your little doggy, he he he.

5. Automotive radar in your Hyundai. That’s right folks. You people who can’t afford a car as expensive as the one I drive, you will soon have radar too. And you’ll still follow too close on the freeway, but I can’t do anything about that. The little red light on the dash will clammer that your too close, AND you don’t have your seatbelt on. The smart car is coming. With over 15 million lines of code in a modern automobile, I can’t wait for the second Tuesday of the month when Ford sends out its security updates. Oh no, my car has a virus and it won’t stop sneezing!

6. Geotagging the real world. I want all dogs, cats, and babies to have GPS installed. And while we’re at it, I want my phone, my TV remote, my car keys, my purse, and my reading glasses tagged too. I’m tired of looking for them and want an app to find them once and for all. Oh yes, and the teenagers. We must get them tagged first.

7. Energy storage. Come on folks, surely we can come up with a battery that can power a laptop for over 8 hours, a phone for over a week, and a car for over 35 miles. I’m not making any predictions, but I do suggest that whoever comes up with a practical energy storage device will own the world. Don’t expect it in 2011, but certainly by 2111 we’ll have solved that issue. (2525 is too far out to predict, and I only see images of long black tubes.)

8. And for my last prediction: we’ve got to get 3D TV on our smart phones. (Also those magnifying glasses that surgeons wear so we can see full detail, HD, Form 1040, progressive scanned, 3D shows on my smart phone’s 4” screen.) I may never have to suffer reality again. Infinite reruns of Homer Simpson, and I’ll just veg away here in my seat.

So put on your lampshade and get ready to party like its 1999. Here comes the little red corvette, and the purple rain, and 20ten … wait … that is so last year.

And now my bonus prediction. This just in off the wire, silicon chips will be able to communicate via pulses of light. IBM trumpets silicon nanophotonics as the enabler for envisioned exoscale processors which would perform a million trillion operations per second. Watch for these exciting new chips at a super market near you soon. Now I won't have to wait so long for my YouTube downloads. What, you say the problem is my network capacity? Never mind.

We are living in the future
I'll tell you how I know
I read it in the paper
Fifteen years ago

We're all driving rocket ships
And talking with our minds
And wearing turquoise jewelry
And standing in soup lines
We are standing in soup lines

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