Trends, Predictions, Reviews and Watch Lists

As a new year dawns, we will see lots of reviews of the old year’s lists, new predictions for 2007 and beyond and disruptive technologies to watch. I would like to capture some of these, related to technology and business.

Predictions 2007

CodeProject Survey Results

I like this one since it provides the wisdom of a group instead of a single person’s view

Ten Tech Trends for 2007 – Mercury News

My favorite – Tipping point for Solar Energy.

Five Disruptive Technologies to Watch in 2007 by David Storm, Information Week

RFID, WebServices, Server Virtualization, Mobile Security, Graphics Processing.

Predictions 2006

Why do I have them here? I think it is worth reviewing them to see which ones still apply.

Ten Trends to watch in 2006 from McKinsey

The Next Decade is the Cambrian Explosion of CyberSpace

From Paul Saffo’s essay on Farewell Information, it’s a Media Age

The next decade is the Cambrian explosion of cyberspace, and like the Cambrian explosion 4 billion years ago, most of these novelties will go extinct as quickly as they arrive, but the minority that survive will have a disproportionate impact on the shape of the web – and our lives – in the years to come.

Paul argues that media is the organizing principle, with a difference.

In the TV era, it was hard, if not impossible to participate, but now in the new world of personal media, the exact reverse it the case: it is hard to merely be a bystander.

On intertwining of the Cyberspace with real space…

Combine wireless connectivity with position awareness, GIS and other sensor technologies, and it is obvious that the symbolic world of cyberspace and the “real” (physical) world will deeply intertwine. In a decade or so, we will take it for granted that there is an invisible cyberspace overlay atop everything we see in the physical world, and we will count on that overlay to help us navigate through life.

Possibility of new applications – endless:

Once your phone or handheld knows where you are and is in constant touch, the possibilities for new and stranger applications is endless.

Shift from product to subscription and the blending of products and services:

Obviously the web’s evolution will have a huge impact on business models and in more than one dimension. But one aspect is especially interesting. The seemingly tired 1980s notion of the “service economy” may come to pass in surprising ways as the web enabled a transformation of products into services.

The subscription model neatly encapsulates what is really going on here. The notion of “service” is as dead because it assumes there is a clear distinction between product and service. In fact, product and service are blending into something new and so deeply integrated that one can no longer tell where the product stops and the service begins.

A shift – From few and large to many and small:

We have replaced the big company monoculture with a new creator-centric business ecology in which the success of the big players is directly dependent on the participation and good will of multitudes of small players.

From consumers to creators:

Blogs are but the most prosaic indicator of this trend, with more interesting examples elsewhere. Once upon a time, encyclopedias were written by professional writers and editors; today they are created by amateurs logging into wikis like Wikipedia.

This essay is almost a year old, but almost reads as if it was written yesterday.

Song Is The King

Paul Saffo says that technologies take 20 years to arrive from invention to our home. In this entry on the significance of iPod, he says:

The iPod is an extraordinary innovation — and still so misunderstood even on the fifth anniversary of its introduction on October 23, 2001. In contemplating it’s significance, it is tempting to focus on the iPod as a device, an artifact that is as beautiful as it is functional. But the device is only the tip of the iceberg, for the greatest long-term impact of the iPod lies in the underlying iTunes music delivery system.

I don’t mean simply the idea of coupling the device with the delivery system. Rather, it is the details of iTunes that makes it revolutionary. With iTunes, Apple accomplished two vast, seismic shifts. First, the iPod ended the era of the album as the basic unit of music sales. For the first time since the demise of 45 singles records, the song is king.

Second, Apple’s iTunes store broke the album-centric economic model that has given the recording industry its vast power.

Nice to get a perspective on a larger trends. You can find Paul’s journal here.

Integration of E-mail with Wikis

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog about using wiki as an email storage. Looks as if this is not such a novel idea, after all. I saw a news item today about a company called Mindtouch that provides a connector from Outlook to wikis. Here is the info from the KM World article titled E-mail goes Wiki.

MindTouch says its Connector for Microsoft Outlook is the latest enhancement for the MindTouch Managed Office Server (MOS), which the company describes as an onsite Wiki appliance specifically designed to meet the information management needs of small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). The company further explains MindTouch MOS sits behind a customer’s firewall, allowing companies to maintain control of their data by keeping it on their own networks.

Here is what MindTouch lets your organization do:

  • Easily find, share and act upon information
  • Build a repository of past documents for re-use
  • Eliminate version control issues
  • Always use the most current information
  • Collaborate on projects
  • Automate processes
  • Capture and share best practices

As people get comfortable with the notion of collaboration with wikis, we will see more connectors and better integration with other information sources.

Internet Singularity

What an interesting concept! From Thinking Beyond Web 2.0: Social Computing and the Internet Singularity.

Quoting a quote from Dion’s blog:

The idea that a deeper and tighter coupling between the online and offline worlds will accelerate science, business, society, and self-actualization.” – Dr. Gary Flake

Dion talks about convergence and cross pollination of ideas from Web 2.0 to enterprises.

Here are some thoughts/wishes.

  • Mashups become as simple as writing Excel Macros
  • AJAX is not an after thought but gets absorbed into the way we build UI
  • Highlevel declarative Mashup Markup Languages spring up
  • Webservices (both lite and heavy) take root and may become the norm
  • Loosely coupled applications with thousands and even millions of components appear as different services
  • A robust platform springs up with webservices proxies and other infrastructural services
  • Data Services ( a new kind of service where database capabilities are available as webservices) absorb the complexity of storing, retrieving and scaling data access
  • Semantics take hold. Whether it is through Microformats or RDF or some fusion of these, does not really matter
  • Social Computingness (wiki-ness, blog-ness, ajax-ness, mashup-ness, openapis-ness, software-as-service-ness) become the core philosophies of development

I like the spirt of this whole thing. Just wish that is where we are going. It will not kill jobs or companies. There is so much to do.

MicroLearning, MicroKnowledge

Found this link from Danny's post about MicroLearning Conference. I was curious about the concept so went to Microlearning.org and found this wiki.

Microlearning

…is a term used in the e-learning context for a learner’s short interaction with a learning matter broken down to very small bits of content. At present this term is not clearly defined. Learning processes that have been called “microlearning” can cover a span from some seconds (e.g. in mobile learning) to 15 minutes (learning objects sent as e-mails).

Exploring this wiki led me to the concept of Microknowledge.

Microknowledge is not identical with a set of Microcontent chunks. Just like Knowledge is by definition (see there) having the form of more complex structures, Microknowledge cannot not be seen as consisting of separate information "atoms" or self-contained micro-messages.

Microinformation only becomes Microknowledge when bringing with it the momentary experience of immersion in a wider, more structured knowledge space. This micro-knowledge space is again mirroring the structure of the Web itself (small pieces loosely joined). In fact, the Web itself is experienced as a micro-knowledge space.

I think this is a useful concept of providing small bytes of useful information. Especially in task-oriented and informal learning contexts. I need to spend more time on this wiki, following links and well – microlearning.

AJAX and XML Trends

Google Trends is a cool tool. It has several limitations (a subject for another blog post) but you can get some interesting information with a few simple queries. I wanted to find how heavily XML is used by various programming languages (this is not real use, but an indicator of use). The assumption is that if I can find a query where a language and xml are typed together "java xml", it means there is an interest in using java with xml. So here is a query I tried.

"java xml, perl xml, php xml, ruby xml, python xml"

And here are a few trend graphs:

XML use in Java, PHP, PERL, Python, Ruby

This is for all years. One of the limitations of Google Trends is that I cannot choose a range (from 2004 till now, from 2005 till now etc.)

Here is the trend in 2006

XML with Programming Languages -2006

Here is the trend in 2005.

Here is one I tried Java and .NET for serverside XML and Javascript for client side.

And a minor variation Java XML and AJAX. This is pretty revealing.