Trends & Quick Takes
Trends and Forecasts
January seems to be a time to predict the future, contemplate current trends and—sometimes—follow up the previous year’s projections with a scorecard. Since I included some predictions (and scorecards) last year, this is a good time to see how those came out, along with a sampling of new predictions and trends.
One mark of a proper business guru (or guru in general) is that they never look back at past projections. It could make them look fallible, even foolish—and that’s no way to keep the best-selling books and high-priced speeches going. We’re supposed to forget what they said last year, two years ago, five years ago: They’re gurus, so they must be right.
High-profile people aren’t always gurus of that sort. That’s specifically true for Ed Felten of Freedom to tinker, who regularly—and honestly—reviews his previous year’s predictions. Last year, I noted five of Felten’s 13 predictions that I regarded as “in scope,” without offering my own comments. Four of the five were right on the money, I believe. The fifth (“Bogus airport security procedures will peak and start to decrease”)—well, when have you seen the current Presidential administration admit a mistake and make changes for the better?
Here’s what Felten and his team had to say, excerpted and reformatted, with comments I might choose to add in boldface, noting that the predictions I mentioned last year are #1, 3, 5, 8 and 12:
As usual, we’ll start the new year by reviewing the predictions we made for the previous year. Here now, our 2007 predictions, in italics, with hindsight in ordinary type.
(1) DRM technology will still fail to prevent widespread infringement. In a related development, pigs will still fail to fly.
We predict this every year, and it’s always right. This prediction is so obvious that it’s almost unfair to count it. Verdict: right.
(3) Despite the ascent of Howard Berman (D-Hollywood) to the chair of the House IP subcommittee, copyright issues will remain stalemated in Congress.
As predicted, not much happened in Congress on the copyright front. As usual, some bad bills were proposed, but none came close to passage. Verdict: right. Much as it pains me to say this, “no losses” seems to be the best news we can expect on the copyright front.
(4) Like the Republicans before them, the Democrats’ tech policy will disappoint.
Very little changed. For the most part, tech policy issues do not break down neatly along party lines. Verdict: right.
(5) Major record companies will sell a significant number of MP3s, promoting them as compatible with everything. Movie studios won’t be ready to follow suit, persisting in their unsuccessful DRM strategy.
Two of the four major record companies now sell MP3s, and a third announced it will soon start. I haven’t seen sales statistics, but given that Amazon’s store sells only MP3s, sales can’t be too low. As predicted, movie studies are still betting on DRM. Verdict: right. I believe the other two majors have now come on board Amazon’s no-DRM MP3 store.
(8) AACS, the encryption system for next-gen DVDs, will melt down and become as ineffectual as the CSS system used on ordinary DVDs.
AACS was defeated and you can now buy commercial software that circumvents it. Verdict: right.
(11) There will be less attention to e-voting as the 2008 election seems far away and the public assumes progress is being made. The Holt e-voting bill will pass, ratifying the now-solid public consensus in favor of paper trails.
Attention to e-voting was down a bit. Despite widespread public unhappiness with paperless voting, the Holt bill did not pass, mostly due to pushback from state and local officials. Rep. Holt is reportedly readying a more limited bill for introduction in January. Verdict: mostly wrong. On the other hand, California officials took a fairly firm stance against low-security e-voting systems.
(12) Bogus airport security procedures will peak and start to decrease.
Bogus procedures may or may not have peaked, but I didn’t see any decrease. Verdict: unclear. I’d have to call this one wrong: The procedures are as silly as ever.
(13) On cellphones, software products will increasingly compete independent of hardware.
There was a modest growth of third-party software applications for cellphones, including some cross-platform applications. But there was less of this than we predicted. Verdict: mostly wrong.
Our overall score: five right, two mostly wrong, five wrong, one unclear.
A salute to Felten and his colleagues. How many forecasters would explicitly say they were more wrong than right?
Scott Vine offered a series of predictions for 2007, some of which I cited—with my own comments in italics. Vine is another one with the courage of his own convictions: He posted his predictions and “How did I do?” on January 5, 2008 (www.informationoverlord.co.uk). Since I added comments to the seven I considered particularly interesting, I’ll include those comments here (in italics), followed by Vine’s own scorecard (in bold) and my thought, if any, following that—in regular type rather than smaller indented quote style.
AllofMP3.com to get bought in a surprise (and risky?) move by Yahoo, who recognise its business model as winner. Doubtful—the legal risk probably exceeds the potential reward. WRONG: AllofMp3 was shut down (unless you were using the Alltunes desktop version), but the company behind it just set up new sites.
I was pretty sure Yahoo would never take that kind of risk, particularly given the American legal situation—and they didn’t.
Google will buy Pandora. Could happen, but I hope not. WRONG: LastFm was the major online discovery site to get snapped up. I still think Pandora could be a target though.
I can’t disagree that Pandora could be a target—but I’m pleased they didn’t become part of Google.
The US District Court will once again hold that COPA is unconstitutional in its attempts to protect children online. Let’s hope this is true…and that the Supreme Court agrees. RIGHT: common sense prevailed.
Microsoft will buy AOL. Doubtful. WRONG: Although I do not discount this one coming true in 2008.
I do (discount this happening in 2008), although I could be wrong. I don’t see why Microsoft would consider AOL a worthwhile acquisition—there’s just not much there anymore.
IPTV will really take off. RIGHT?: Although I think it will be the next 18 months when this really takes off in a big way.
This may be right for the UK, but certainly not for the US, unless you count low-res shortform video as IPTV—and I think that’s stretching it.
Mobile spam and viruses will grow. Likely. RIGHT (although not as right as I thought I’d be).
DRM in music will be abandoned (may be 2008 until this one really happens, but maybe). Doubtful, although it’s a wonderful notion. RIGHT: or as good as, with Sony BMG just announcing that they will complete the list of majors ditching DRM in their commercial download sales.
Here, I’m delighted to say Vine was closer to the truth than I was. It’s certainly not abandoned, since DRM-heavy iTunes is still the biggest force in downloaded music, but the writing is definitely on the wall.
One other Vine 2007 prediction I chose not to include last year, along with his scorecard comments and mine.
Avatars will rule the world … maybe. WRONG.
I think it’s now clear avatars aren’t gaining real-world significance or numbers nearly as quickly as they gained media and blog recognition.
How did Vine do overall? Excluding sports predictions, six right and seven wrong—and I’d score it 5.5 right and 7.5 wrong. That’s a good track record, and Vine gets full credit for taking responsibility for his own predictions. My second-guessing, noting that I’m not ready to give my own brave predictions? I called it right six times out of seven, with the seventh being a tossup—and a case where I hoped I was wrong. But it’s always easier to second-guess somebody else’s predictions than it is to make your own.
I think these were intended to be grain-of-salt predictions. Here are a few, again with my thoughts in italics and my own followup in bold. (I didn’t find any scorecard, but may have missed it.)
Spam Doubles: No-brainer—but no one cares because we’re all using IM, especially at work. “We’re all” is just nonsense here. The “we’re all using IM” line is sheer Wired-style garbage—but email spam filters have done a reasonable, if far from perfect, job of keeping spam a nuisance rather than a disaster.
Year o’ the Laptop: Half of all new computers sold in 2007 will be laptops and 20 percent of those will be Apple’s MacBooks. First part: Possible. Second part: Unlikely—that would more than double Apple’s market share even if they didn’t sell a single iMac or other desktop. Yes, roughly half of PCs sold were notebooks. No report I’ve seen would credit Apple with anything close to 20% of notebook sales, however.
Print to Web: A major newspaper gives up printing on paper to publish exclusively online. Unlikely—the economics still don’t work. Unless you define “major” very broadly. Just hasn’t happened.
Apple goes Apple: The entire Beatles catalog is licensed exclusively to iTunes for a year. Seems unlikely. Didn’t happen—and I’d regard it as highly improbable that the Beatles would give iTunes an exclusive even in 2008.
HD-DVD wins: HD-DVD is the clear winner over Blu-ray in the DVD format wars. Oh yes, and the PS3 is a bust. I’m already on record as saying that Blu-ray is the likely “winner” if there is one, so I think this is a bad call. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Blu-ray is the clear sales winner by every known metric.
No More Dads: Artificial gametes made from female eggs are sold over the internet, making fathers biologically irrelevant. And pigs will fly. Somehow, the pigs are still on the ground.
Greenland Becomes Green: As the ice melts, Greenland becomes literally green. Not this year, but…OK, global warming is real—but not quite that fast.
Raelians Need Not Apply: A human embryo is cloned for real. Claimed, yes; real, unlikely. I don’t even remember any serious claims.
Don’t Don’t Be Evil: Google drops “Don’t be evil” as its corporate mantra. Evil has its justifications, but no one likes a hypocrite. Unlikely. Didn’t happen.
They’re Watching You: Congress passes a law requiring internet service providers to keep logs of all web traffic and e-mail for three years. Highly unlikely. Didn’t happen.
MySpace Spaces Out: Myspace splinters as teens head for niche sites… Likely enough. If anything, the migration seems to be to Facebook, hardly a niche site—but MySpace usage still far outweighs Facebook and any other social site.
Wowzer. Maybe that’s why I didn’t find a 2008 set of “wild predictions”—even a stopped clock is right twice a day, but this set of predictions was so wild as to be ludicrous.
Here are very brief excerpts from his 2007 predictions. My (rare) comments are in italics, with followup (if any) in bold.
The spread of OA archiving policies by funding agencies and universities is an unstoppable trend [with] more mandates than requests. Maybe unstoppable—but slow.
The spread of institutional repositories is equally unstoppable… I’m tempted to predict a continuing tension between the narrow conception of institutional repositories (to provide OA for eprints) and the broad conception of IRs (to provide OA for all kinds of digital content, from eprints to courseware, conference webcasts, student work, digitized library collections, administrative records, and so on, with at least as much attention on preservation as access). But I have to predict that the broad conception will prevail. The spread itself seems to be slowing (at least in terms of actual usage), and without the “broad conception” I suspect most IRs would be comatose.
Funding agencies with weak OA policies…will find, like the NIH, that the policies generate unacceptably low compliance rates or unacceptably long embargoes… [And the NIH will eventually move to a mandate.]
When funding agencies consider OA mandates, the center of attention will be the length of the permissible embargo…. For authors and readers, the sweet spot is zero—no embargo at all. The embargo period will be the center of attention for four reasons: (1) it really could make the difference between effective and ineffective OA; (2) it really could make the difference between between survivable and unsurvivable cancellations; (3) it’s not binary and could always be nudged up or down; (4) and most other issues have already been settled.
Publishers who don’t already consent to author self-archiving are facing increased pressure to go green. Publishers who do already consent are feeling increased pressure to retract or scale back their permission (say) by adding fees or embargoes or both…I think both will continue to increase.
We’ll continue to debate the question whether high-volume OA archiving will reduce journal subscriptions, and we’ll continue to debate it without hard evidence… [Suber goes on to say “we’ll need the money” spent on subscriptions to pay for the OA alternative—which leaves libraries’ other needs out in the cold.]
We may see occasional friction between proponents of fee-based and no-fee OA journals, just as we see occasional friction between proponents of OA archives and OA journals. But in both cases it’s best to interpret this as division of labor rather than real rivalry… I think we’re seeing a new kind of friction: Supposed gold OA advocate(s) who oppose any form of OA that doesn’t promise to keep big publishers whole.
More publishers will adopt the hybrid OA model for more journals. Because the hybrid model is so risk-free, this is an easy prediction… The big question for publishers is whether they want author uptake badly enough to make it attractive… I’m not predicting that many hybrid OA journals will convert to full OA, though that’s what I’d like to see happen.
A few years ago most book publishers denied that free online full-text searching (even without reading) would increase net sales. Today most believe it. Today most deny or don’t want to believe that free online full-text reading will also increase net sales. But in a couple of years most will believe it and they will seize it as a new and lucrative business model which, incidentally, will help readers, researchers, and purchasers enormously. In retrospect, it will look a lot like the fuss about distributing movies on videotape—a profitable no-brainer delayed by short-sighted panic. Quoted in full because it’s a false analogy—videotapes were never free—and because I doubt this one. I still doubt this for full-text reading—and the analogy continues to be false.
Novel copyright problems are coming over the horizon. Do machine-generated paraphrases of copyrighted texts infringe copyright? What about databases of facts and assertions gleaned from copyrighted texts, either by human gleaners or by software? What about data (not itself copyrightable) seamlessly integrated with a copyrighted text? I doubt that any of these will be taken up seriously in 2007, at least. I could be wrong.
In 2007 we’ll see an outcome in the lawsuits against the Google Library project… I predict a judicial ruling, not a settlement. Turns out these particular wheels turn exceedingly slowly: No outcome of any sort.
We’ve used many methods over the years to educate publishing scholars about OA, and for many reasons this work has been slow-going… [O]ne elegant method is starting to work 24/7 without draining anyone’s time or energy. It’s simply the growing exposure of existing OA literature. [I]t’s easy to predict that this kind of spontaneous author education will also continue to grow. On the other hand, university faculty continue to show very little interest in “spontaneously” using their IRs for article deposit.
As always, go read the original.
Hane, editor of Information Today, Inc’s Newsbreaks, offered this list in a January 8, 2007 article “Wrapping up 2006; looking ahead” that also comments on what Hane considered the most important trends for 2006. I listed half of the 2007 trends with comments on some. Updates in bold.
Ø Wikis will likely grow in numbers and importance. True.
Ø We’ll see more interesting and useful content and tools mashups. “More” is easy: True.
Ø “Widgets” will be cool and ubiquitous… “Cool” is a personal judgments; many of us will avoid widgets to avoid gadget overload. Ubiquitous? Not a chance. Wrong.
Ø We’ll see more experimentation with new forms of publishing… Again, “more” makes this right, although I’m not sure I’ve seen a big increase.
Ø Video will continue to be a big deal. But most people will still watch most video in the form of professional productions, that is, TV and DVD. True—both Hane’s comment and my note.
Ø Copyright issues won’t just go away and could come to a head in 2007. They won’t go away—that’s for sure—but even with Berman in charge, I believe that more oppressive legislation is unlikely (and more balanced legislation close to impossible, unfortunately). You can’t argue with “could,” but in fact my comment was on the money. No significant new legislation.
Scott Vine has nine forecasts for this year, some of which are wholly out of my scope. You can find them all on his blog in a January 9, 2008 post. Most are interesting and worth thinking about, but simply beyond the scope of C&I as I currently see it. Here’s one, though:
MP3 to the masses - let the battle commence. Can Amazon kick iTunes’ arse in 2008??
Maybe. I’ve grown to dislike Steve “people don’t read books anyway” Jobs enough that I can’t offer an unbiased comment. I’d like to think DRM-free MP3 that can be used on any player would attract people away from the iMonolith, but that may be wishful thinking.
Felten and team (Alex Halderman, David Robinson and Dan Wallach) issued their “official Freedom to Tinker predictions” on January 7, 2008 (www.freedom-to-tinker.com). Of the 14 predictions, I think 11 are in scope and worth noting. My comments, if any, in italics.
(1) DRM technology will still fail to prevent widespread infringement. In a related development, pigs will still fail to fly. I believe this will be less true in 2008—because I think there will be less use of DRM. Otherwise, the safest prediction around.
(2) Copyright issues will still be gridlocked in Congress. Probably, and maybe a good thing.
(3) No patent reform bill will be passed. Baby steps toward a deal between the infotech and biotech industries won’t lead anywhere. Probably, and almost certainly a bad thing.
(4) DRM-free sales will become standard in the music business. The movie studios will flirt with the idea of DRM-free sales but won’t take the plunge, yet. The wildcard: Now that Sony has finally seen the light on the music side, if its generally anti-DRM hardware side becomes more powerful, the Sony-owned studios just might recognize the virtue of DRM-free sales. On balance, though, Felten’s probably right.
(5) The 2008 elections will not see an e-voting meltdown of Florida 2000 proportions, but a bevy of smaller problems will be reported, further fueling the trend toward reform. Almost certainly right on both counts.
(7) Second Life will jump the shark and the cool kids will start moving elsewhere; but virtual worlds generally will lumber on. Almost certainly right, noting that Second Life never really had that many users.
(10) If a Democrat wins the White House, we’ll hear talk about reinvigorated antitrust enforcement in the tech industries. (But of course it will all be talk, as the new administration won’t take office until 2009.) One can only hope.
(11) A Facebook application will cause a big privacy to-do. Seems likely.
(12) There will be calls for legislation to create a sort of Web 2.0 user’s bill of rights, giving users rights to access and extract information held by sites; but no action will be taken. I’d call this one nearly certain.
(13) An epidemic of news stories about teenage webcam exhibitionism will lead to calls for regulation. Not unlikely—and if there is regulation, it will be overreaching and probably unconstitutional.
(14) Somebody will get Skype or a similar VoIP client running on an Apple iPhone and it will, at least initially, operate over AT&T’s cellular phone network. AT&T and/or Apple will go out of their way to break this, either by filtering the network traffic or by locking down the iPhone. Highly probable.
The December 2007 issue of SPARC Open Access News (www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/) includes ten predictions related to open access, excerpted here, with comments following in unindented type. You should read the original article, particularly for discussions such as (2), where I’d like to be as sanguine for the long term as Suber is. Where I don’t have a comment, assume I agree or lack an informed position.
(1) First, I’ll be quick with the easy predictions: In 2008, there will be more new OA journals, more journal conversions from TA to OA, more OA repositories, more deposits in OA repositories, more OA to data, more OA to books, more OA to ETDs, more OA to courseware, and more OA policies—including OA mandates—at funding agencies and universities. These are not just easy; they’re central. We’ll see steady progress on all these important fronts.
(2) The rate of spontaneous author self-archiving—without intervention by funder or university policies—will only increase slowly in 2008. In one sense, this doesn’t matter much if funder and university policies increase, which I’m also predicting. But the more we can supplement mandated green OA with spontaneous green OA, the faster and more securely we can reach our goal.
I’d say it does matter, for reasons Dorothea Salo has been discussing—and that the prediction is, unfortunately, correct.
(3) All stakeholders want to know whether OA mandates will cause libraries to cancel journal subscriptions, at least outside physics where we already know that high-volume OA archiving does not cause cancellations… We won’t see decisive results in 2008. There are two reasons. First, if there’s an effect, it will take more time to show up…. Second, even if subscriptions fall as OA archiving rises, it will be difficult to disentangle the cancellations caused by OA from the cancellations caused by natural attrition and librarian triage.
(4) The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) will mandate OA for NIH-funded research. If the mandate doesn’t come as part of the NIH appropriation for fiscal 2008, then it will come another way.
Right. This happened—and the publishers and one so-called OA advocate (but only gold OA, only done his way) are screaming bloody murder.
(5) Publishers will always market their OA projects as boons to authors and readers, which is perfectly justified. But with or without more OA mandates to force the issue, we’ll start to see more OA and near-OA projects designed to help publishers themselves…
A particularly interesting discussion, and I don’t know enough to comment, except to note that Suber knows his stuff.
(6) More publishers of OA journals will report profits or surpluses. Hindawi has proved that OA journals can be profitable by charging publication fees, and Medknow has proved that OA journals can be profitable without publication fees by offering priced, print editions (sometimes supplemented by advertising, membership dues, and reprint sales). We’ll see more successes at both fee-based and no-fee OA journals.
Good news and almost certainly right—and, as Suber notes, these successes will continue to “compete with myths, misinformation, and misunderstanding.” Even though we now know that most OA journals don’t charge publication fees, that fact hasn’t sunk in (as Suber notes).
(7) We’ll see more publisher-university deals… These deals create a new body of OA content–articles by faculty at participating institutions—for about the same price that institutions currently pay for subscriptions. They don’t make whole journals OA, and hence don’t make subscriptions unnecessary, but they do make articles OA. We’ll see more of them because they benefit both parties. They benefit universities by delivering more bang for the library budget buck and by widening the dissemination of some faculty work. They benefit publishers by reducing the risk of cancellation.
(8) We’ll see more funder-publisher deals, like the Wellcome Trust deal with Elsevier, the NIH deal with Elsevier, the deals of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) with Elsevier, Springer, and BioMed Central, and the Elsevier deals with most of the funders in the UKPMC Funders Group. Some of these deals pay publishers for gold OA when green OA would suffice, and some pay publishers for green OA when publishers don’t need to be paid at all.
(9) We’ll see more initiatives expressly designed to redirect money from subscriptions for TA journals to publication fees or subsidies for OA journals.
(10) Universities adopting new OA mandates will shift from the “required deposit” model of the early pioneers to the “required permission” model currently under review at the University of California (and some other institutions not ready to reveal their plans). This model reduces the demands on faculty and increases the certainty about permissions. As long as the university is willing to pay people, usually librarians, to make the actual deposits, it could be a faster and more frictionless way to move the deposit rate toward 100%.
Bajarin notes his predictions for the past three years and touts their accuracy. Reading his 2007 predictions, I don’t regard them as all that accurate—but I see that, as you’d expect from a market analyst selling pricey reports, they’re worded in such a way that he can claim accuracy. Here’s what he has for this year:
Ø Smartphones get smarter and gain market share. A repeat prediction and safe enough.
Ø Flash-based laptops. He mentions the rumor that the new Mac Air would be flash-based, and goes on to say “we will see at least one flash-based laptop of some type come from each of the major PC vendors.” Could be, although that may depend on your definition of “major PC vendor.”
Ø “Basic PCs.” He expects to see lots of bare-bones computers “priced around $275 to $350 and targeted at emerging markets.” Oddly enough, neither of his two examples falls in that price range: The XO-1 (OLPC) is cheaper ($188, theoretically) and the ASUS Eee PC 4G is more expensive ($399).
Ø Social networks targeted by botnets. Almost certainly true; once there’s a big enough target, there’s malware aimed at that target. Thus, also, the fifth prediction: Smartphones become targets for viruses and identity theft.
Ø Social networks catch on with corporate users. If he means LinkedIn or Facebook (which he mentions), probably. But he also mentions Second Life. Really?
Ø Little screens get video. Bajarin touts “media snacking.” Sigh.
Ø Corporate IT and users demand green PCs. One can only hope—and hope that people recognize the fallacy of replacing working “non-green” PCs with “green” PCs. Unless it’s an energy hog, the greenest PC is the one you already own.
Ø Apple gains significant market share. By “significant,” he means that Apple could move up to somewhere between six and ten percent of the market. (I note here as in other columns that PC apparently doesn’t copy-edit its columns—e.g., “more integrated then anything in the PC environment” in this prediction.)
Ø Tech spending in U.S. could slow down. Since I’m suggesting a time of limits, I can’t disagree.
Also from PC Magazine, this one’s interesting because Ulanoff focuses on what he saw as key trends for 2007—and where he sees them going this year. I’m omitting some.
Ø Vista flounders. He’s right that 2007 wasn’t a great year for Vista—and I’m inclined to agree with his prognosis: “Vista will recover in 2008, and by the end of the year people will forget why they hated it so much.” As Ulanoff points out, XP didn’t get off to a great start either. (Here, since I haven’t yet made the move—which will come with my next PC—I trust my bright and skeptical wife. She’s been using Vista for several months and has no desire to overwrite it with XP.)
Ø iPod touches. That is, the iPod Touch was a great success. Prognosis: “Look out, Apple. The competition has nimble feet.” Seems likely.
Ø Google expands. Prognosis: Google will win its wireless bid and get partners to roll out Android-based phones—but not build its own phones. Seems likely.
Ø Facebook blows up (in a good way, opening up to everyone). Prognosis: Facebook’s “heat” will fade and its popularity start to decline. Since I don’t use it, I won’t comment.
Ø Intel trumps AMD. Prognosis: AMD has some interesting chips—but they really need to deliver. My own comment: My next PC will almost certainly be a quad-core Intel—but what do I know? Just this: AMD-equipped PCs seem to be “lowball” in various ways, which makes me nervous. Maybe that’s not AMD’s fault.
Ø Viruses keep quiet and phishes get smarter. Prognosis: This will continue. Probably true.
Ø Retail rises from the dead. “Remember how we thought that eventually everyone would shop online?” Prognosis: Companies will make the links to retail. My comment: “We” were wrong in the first place—not everybody wants to shop for major purchases online. Dell’s appearance in Best Buy and Gateway’s appearance, well, everywhere tells the tale: Most of us would rather just walk out of a store with a PC.
Ø The HD DVD vs. Blu-Ray Battle Stalls. Prognosis: “2008 will mark the year we stop caring about Blu-ray or HD DVD.” I wonder; I could see HD DVD calling it quits by the end of the year—but Ulanoff could be right. My fairly confident prediction: HD DVD will not run Blu-ray into the ground.
Excerpted from a piece in the January 7, 2008 Publishers Weekly, available at www.publishersweekly.com/ article/CA6517338.html. Shatzkin remembers Arthur Anderson’s “now-infamous turn-of-the-millennium” projection that ebooks would be a $1 billion business within four years and says he’s not climbing out onto any billion-dollar limbs. These are interesting and informed comments, though. I’m only giving a few of the topic sentences, with my thoughts (if any) following in unindented type.
1. The popularity of e-books will increase, with titles formatted for Amazon’s Kindle leading the way.
Probably right—noting that the increase is on a tiny base, as Shatzkin makes clear.
2. Sales of books in electronic form to public libraries will continue to grow.
3. This will be the Year of the Author. (That is, publishers will recognize the insignificance of their “brands”—and maybe a major author will try self-publishing.)
5. Christmas 2008 will be the first one in which sales of customized books, enabled by the Internet and print-on-demand, will become substantial.
I wouldn’t be surprised: One-copy books are more feasible than ever.
7. Apple…will move to turn the iPhone and iPod into e-book readers.
Seems to me Steve Jobs absurd and offensive dismissal of book reading poisons that well, but who knows?
13. Some publishers will begin producing a hardcover edition of every paperback and a large-print edition of every title [using PoD and XML].
Intriguing, and certainly feasible. If I thought there was a market for large-print or hardbound C&I books, it would be relatively trivial to provide them.
Some of the other trends are mostly interesting to insiders. Note that I can only find one of these where I disagree (#7), there mostly because Jobs made such a point of putting down book reading. Maybe music and TV is all he needs; most of us dig more deeply.
I wasn’t there. I resigned from LITA Top Tech Trends some years back because I’d been doing it long enough (since its founding), because I don’t consider myself much of a trendspotter, and because of personal conflicts. My appearance last summer was a “special guest appearance” at the committee’s request, as was my moderating gig the year before.
I understand there have been complaints about the Midwinter session not being set up sufficiently like a program. Of course, it isn’t a program—that would violate ALA rules for Midwinter. Back in the days when TTT was young, we—the “trendspotters”—actually discussed trends among ourselves, tossing out things I don’t think would be mentioned in a big crowd and sometimes arguing about them. There were observers (having a closed session also violates ALA rules), but it wasn’t a panel or program-in-disguise. It sounds as though the setup this time was along those lines.
Is that wrong? It is if you think Midwinter TTT should be a program, but not otherwise. Then again, I don’t know. I wasn’t there. And, reading through these trends—at least in some cases—it’s probably just as well that I wasn’t. I’d get even more of a reputation as a curmudgeon.
Reading some second-hand reporting I’ve chosen not to include, I see yet again the suggestion that libraries should offer two-tier service (“basic” services free, money for better services—ignoring the nearly-inevitable long-term consequence that “basic” becomes worse and worse) in order to compete with Netflix. Sigh. See the January 2008 issue. I recognize that the idea of turning libraries into another NPR or ballet or symphony, another cultural icon for the wealthy (with a few scraps for the rest of us) won’t go away; that doesn’t make it a good idea.
I’m excerpting (and reformatting) these notes from panelists’ own blog posts or blog posts about the sessions, in no particular order. LITA TTT always produces interesting sets of possibilities. My comments appear in regular type following the smaller-type indented quotations.
Houghton-Jan includes the full versions of these notes in a January 11, 2008 post at LibrarianInBlack (librarianinblack.typepad.com).
Tough Budget, Tech Stays: With a recession, or at least a persistent economic downturn, pending, libraries are counting their pennies and staying up late writing up proposals for why their budgets should not be some of the ones that are cut… I do believe, though, that even in these times of tightening belts and even less funds for library services that most libraries will at least hold their technology budgets steady, realizing that a lack of outlay now means that next year the library will be even further behind and its users further disenfranchised.
If that means keeping technology budgets but cutting materials, hours or public-service staff, doesn’t that disenfranchise patrons even more than a technology slowdown? I don’t see how technology can or should be a sacred cow if or when new books and weekend hours lose out.
Widening of the Digital Divide and our Inattention to It: …The digital divide is a reality in our communities, and one that we aren’t paying enough attention to. It doesn’t matter what type of library you work for, it’s the same everywhere. All libraries have the technological haves and the have nots (and the people in the middle)… In the past (think: early days of the internet) we had tunnel vision toward the have nots, and catered our technology services to that group, for better or for worse. It’s imperative for us to realize, now, that we cannot make the opposite mistake this time and focus our services and priorities only/mostly on the haves, ignoring the segments of our communities who still lack the basic technology skills and equipment... I worry that our attention on the haves, stimulated in large part by the influx of Web 2.0 (and now, possibly 3.0) technologies, will result in our continued inattention to the digital divide, much to the detriment of our entire service population.
Since I’ve been ranting off and on about libraries favoring the advantaged, I can’t possibly disagree with Houghton-Jan on this one.
User-Centered Content Production:… In the case of web content, libraries are starting to move in the direction of not only allowing users to create content on their sites (imagine!), but also to drive the individual appearance of that content through “MyLibrary” sites and the overall organization of that content as well... The price? Letting go of a little bit of that control we’ve held so dear over the years. It’s very exciting to see libraries paying more attention to user needs and priorities in the web environment, just as we do in our physical locations.
No argument here.
Virtual Reference Software a la Rest-O'-The-World? The phenomenon of instant messaging as a new way to provide reference services was quickly followed by libraries exploring non-library-world software to provide this essential service…
We Stop Being So Bossy: We are experts in the realm of the online, as we are in the realm of print, but our behavior is a little different in the two worlds. We would never tell people that we know better than they do how they should read properly…but we have taken on that holier-than-thou role when it comes to online services, where we are telling people repeatedly that we know the right way to behave online… I think libraries are starting to realize that instead of acting in a paternalistic and patronizing way toward our users in the realm of technology, we should act toward them exactly as we do in any other situation that bears on customer service: we collaborate, we share, and we work together.
Since I haven’t encountered the behavior, I can’t comment on the supposed change. Both of these seem entirely resaonable.
Another Day of Open Source:… Libraries are starting to look more and more to open source, and the initial fumblings have morphed into some well-thought-out and confident experiments with open source. We’ve moved beyond the basics, like using open source blog and wiki software. Libraries are blazing full ahead using open source ILSs, open source productivity software on public and staff computers (office software, browsers), and a lot more...
I don’t get the “locked-down nature of Microsoft Word” (in a portion of this section I didn’t quote), but in general I agree that libraries are making better use of open source—and this is a good thing. It’s not a holy war, though; I don’t believe libraries should automatically favor open source in all cases, unless all else truly is equal. (Nor do I suggest Houghton-Jan is saying that.)
Coombs includes much longer versions of these notes in a January 12, 2008 Library web chic post (www.librarywebchic.net/wordpress/):
Ultra-light and small PCs (eeePC and competitors)… The idea of having a small, cost effective ($300-$400) efficient computer that has a limited amount of storage (flash memory for a hard drive) and relies heavily on the network and open source software to meet users needs is one that has both appeal..and raises questions about how libraries will provide services in the future.
Although I might wind up buying an eee or equivalent, I doubt their general usefulness and relevance for libraries—but I could certainly be wrong.
New uses of wireless… Probably the coolest moment at Internet Librarian this year was the guys from DOK, Delft Public Library demonstrating the hardware which allows them to push content to people’s wireless phones via bluetooth when the phones get within a certain proximity of said hardware…
Cost to the user when you push them some fascinating, un-asked-for content: $0.10-$0.15. Change in user’s attitude when they figure out that libraries are suddenly spamming them, with the user paying: Priceless. Maybe I’m wrong (again), but this strikes me as an exceedingly bad idea, just as location-based coupons have turned out to be nonstarters.
Blogging ceases to exist as blogging… For many blogging has simply become the way in which content is being created, rather than its own genre or methodology.
Even reading the whole thing, I don’t get this one at all. Sure, some people use blog software for news feeds and other purposes, but most bloggers have, um, blogs. With blog names. No, most of them aren’t “weblogs” in the original “log of what I visited on the web” sense—but they’re both genre and methodology.
On the Go Applications and Data… I and many of my colleagues do 90% of their business using web applications today. We expect applications to be available from wherever, whenever. We are starting to expect the same of our data… Increasingly library users are expecting the same things. Therefore we need to make sure our systems interact well with these technologies that support portable applications and data.
Really? What percentage of public library users do “90% of their business” using portable applications and data? And to what extent is catering to that group another example of tailoring library expenditures to serve the overadvantaged? If the answer is “not at all, it’s just a matter of proper design,” then this seems unobjectionable. Otherwise, it’s arguing that libraries should broaden the digital divide.
Morgan’s commentary appears in a January 7, 2008 post on the LITA blog (litablog.org). Excerpts:
The use of Linux as a server platform as well as a desktop platform will increase. The latest version of Windows seems to have gone over like a lead balloon… As Linux becomes more predominant, so will the concept of open source software, and that is an additional ball of wax that has already been mentioned numerous times.
While the actual trend strikes me as extremely likely, the “failure” of Vista is relative—and “more predominant” is, at least for desktops, a flat-out misstatement. On servers? Maybe. On desktops? I’d rate the chances of Linux becoming “predominant” any time soon as somewhere between slim and none, much closer to none.
Open access will grow, I hope. H.R. 2764 was put into law this past month. In it was a provision mandating recipients of NIH grants to submit their articles to PubMed 12 months after publication…
I’d go farther. Open access will absolutely grow. How fast, how far and in what ways—there’s the rub.
Social networking spaces will mature a bit more…
Read the whole item. I’m not sure I agree or disagree, but I’m not a terribly social animal.
Blogging will continue to affect the way we communicate… I see many blogs going by the wayside and not getting updated. I believe this is true because people realized the time commitment a truly successful blog requires, namely, having something to say on regular basis and knowing how to say it in writing. Yet, the good (and prolific) writers who blog will exert an influence in the way we think and share ideas…
Actually, there’s no particular time commitment unless you have the idea that frequent updates are required—and I think aggregators have ended any such requirement. Otherwise, far be it from me to argue with someone who says that writing counts (and, in the rest of the paragraph, notes that it communicates over time).
Finally, the entity that has made all of these things possible has been our network of globally accessible computers. Each one of those words (”network,” “globally,” “accessible” and “computers”) packs a wallop, and combined into a single thing represent a huge change in the way we live and work. Let’s call that the understatement of the decade.
Hmm. Most of our computers aren’t globally accessible, but it’s true that the internet and computers that make up its nodes underlie all four of Morgan’s points.
Blyberg posted “This trendster’s trends” on January 18, 2008 (www.blyberg.net). Very brief excerpts from some of his trends:
Keep an eye on DRM… (but in place of DRM, studios are opting for digital watermarks.)
So far, motion picture studios seem to be sticking firm with DRM in most cases. I’d love to see a way of making a digital watermark “stick” in a simple digital-analog-digital or even MP3-WAV-MP3 conversion cycle…without that watermark being audible.
Location awareness. If you’re in a room with a hundred cell-phone owners, you can be sure that at least eighty of them are Lo-Jacked. Quietly rolled out under the guide of “Location Services”, most cell phones are equipped with a GPS locater chip… Interesting and very cool from a techie point of view, but also incredibly invasive and potentially scary.
Really? 80% of cell phone owners are “Lo-Jacked”? I’m not sure I believe that. Otherwise, no comment—except that it’s good that Blyberg sees the invasive potential.
Surface computing (e.g., Microsoft Surface).
I honestly don’t see this as something that’s likely to catch hold very rapidly; I think “tactile computing” sounds a lot better in theory than in everyday practice. I could be entirely wrong.
Privacy is dead. Yep, no such thing if you’re a netizen. We basically have the choice to connect or live out our lives in quiet and total obscurity.
Here’s one where my two-syllable comment is impolite and refers to bovine digestive functions. “Netizens” don’t quite rule the world just yet, and some of us manage to be reasonably evident on the net without surrendering our offline time or our privacy.
I’ve left out some topics and possibly some participants. That would probably be true even if I’d been sitting in the session scribbling notes.
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