Friday, January 2, 2009

The Mandatory New Year's Prediction Post

So...
Predictions for 2009?
I normally look at larger trends than a single year, but some people actually asked for my 2009 predictions.
So blame them for this lame post!

Please leave a comment and let me know the many ways in which I'm an idiot...


Surge in dog ownership:
Although cats now rule the roost I expect the Obama puppy to cause an increase in dog ownership.

Decline in Cable TV Subscriptions:
Many younger people are cutting the cable and getting their video programming online.
Between news sites, Hulu, and NetFlix, they don't see a need for cable.

As for the older audience, Cable is hoping that with the Digital Transition, people will switch to cable, but I don't see it happening. With an over-the-air digital receiver, I would get plenty of channels.
I know that when I was taking stock of my expenditures, I just couldn't justify the cost of cable TV. I would cost less to go see the movies in a theater.
I think a lot of people will come to similar conclusions during 2009.


The End of the Twitter:
Twitter is serving two masters: Microblogging and Instant Messaging.
It actually does both of these fairly well, but the high-volume twitterers are using tools like Tweetdeck to manage the tweet stream. Unfortunately, this can make following these people futile for users who just use basic Twitter clients.

Either Twitter will implement some sort of message discrimination, or a new service will rise up to serve this need. In either case, Twitter, as it stands today, seems unlikely to survive the year.


Edgar Allan Poe
With the bicentennial of Poe's birth, I suspect the Hollywood machine will latch on to the public domain stories for a slew of made-for-TV.


Independent Media Productions
The alternative distribution channels created by YouTube, Hulu, and podcasting have created a medium for new artists to find an audience without the cost and politics of big studios and unions.
The Guild is every bit as good as the comedies you'll find on TV. Dr. Horrible's Singalong Blog probably wouldn't have happened without the Writer's Guild strike.

Leo Laporte (This Week in Tech), Cali Lewis (GeekBrief), and the Ask a Ninja guys are all living the dream: They've carved out a full-time job producing content that is distributed directly to their audience on the web.

We've all heard about the democratization of media promised by the Internet, but it appears like it's finally here.

Dr. Horrible made a splash in the larger media, but I expect in 2009, we'll see a web-originated production to really hit it big.



The End of "Trickle-Down Economics"
I know a lot of people regard President Reagan as a great savior or something, but how many times do we need to see that "Trickle Down" just doesn't?

After every market bust or bubble burst, the Haves sit on their resources waiting to see how things play out while the Have-nots get pinched by the sudden loss of available capital.
The great Market Panic of 2008 demonstrated this so clearly. The financial institutions were given an insane amount of cash for the purpose of restarting the credit markets. These institutions sat on the money. As of this writing, they are acquiring smaller banks that didn't get the free money. But still not lending.

With the entire world watching, we're finally seeing a change in policy to put money to work more directly. It seems unlikely that any flavor of "trickle-down" policy will get a hearing in this new environment.

Don't get me wrong: I'm a big believer in a free market and Capitalism. But our current market systems are anything but free.

Unfortunately, given the ignoble state of our financial and stock markets, I suspect the pendulum will be swinging away from the Free Market mentality for awhile.
This is probably an appropriate thing given the circumstances, but hopefully it won't be a long-term trend.


The Beginning of Free Energy
Obama has stated that a large public works project to upgrade the United States' electrical distribution infrastructure will be the bedrock for his plans to improve US security and financial growth. A large-scale an efficient Grid will allow for the cost-effective development of wind farms, tide generators and, yes, nuclear power generation.
Moving from a system where we transport hydrocarbon fluids around to pushing voltage should result in energy independence and nearly free energy.
This will certainly not happen in the next 12 months, but the forces are all aligned, and we have an incoming Administration that seems to "get it," so the potential has never been greater.

Automotive Status Quo
While transporting 2 tons of steel to pick up groceries is preposterous, it seems unlikely that existing US auto manufacturers will react to the changing environment in a significant way.
The market has spoken, and these companies should fail to make room for the next generation of transportation technologies.

Politically, this seems unlikely to happen.

I expect we'll see, at most, one Detroit auto manufacturer go under. And that will more than likely just be a merger.
We probably won't see the next generation of transportation until after the new power generation technologies come online.

Tubes Be Gone!
Holiday 2008 saw some very aggressively priced flat-panel televisions. But retailers still didn't move as many as they had hoped.
Combine these new inexpensive flat screens with the Digital Transition of broadcast television in February, and I think we'll see most homes finally switch away from CRT televisions 2009.

Farmers Markets
When the economic pinch started to hit Main Street in late 2008, many people rediscovered Farmers Markets. By selling direct, farmers can offer superior locally-grown produce at competitive prices.
I think Farmers Markets will become trendy outside the uptown crowd in 2009.



Thing I don't think we'll see in 2009:

The Internet equivalent of the Rural Electrification projects of 1930's.
While desperately needed, I don't think this will make the priority list for 2009.

Revamping of the Patent Office.
Too much money involved to allow the abolishing of all those bogus patents. I fear the system will stay in place until it collapses catastrophically. If the economy stays depressed, it should collapse sooner. Give it five years.

An original idea in Hollywood.
A safe bet in any year!

A real competitor to the iPhone.
There's just too much inertia in the existing manufacturer's to allow enough innovation to leapfrog the iPhone.
Especially if Apple implements cut-and-paste!

A Veronica Mars Movie.
Unless both of Rob Thomas's new TV shows tank, I don't think he'll have time to get this moving. I suspect such a movie will eventually get made since Kristen Bell is a pretty bankable star nowadays. (And as previously stated, Hollywood needs ideas.)

The End of the world.
There's a hundred ways life on this planet could get snuffed out. I'm not expecting it to happen while I'm kicking around.



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