The Wall Street Journal has an article available for free, online access (which is not the norm for all the paper’s articles, I believe) titled “Thinking About Tomorrow.” (Also take a peek at how the 1998 forecasters did in predicting this past decade.)
A number of writers speculate how technology will change the way we communicate and entertain ourselves over the next several years in the areas of shopping, gaming, movies and television, making and keeping friends, searching online, reading the news, and protecting privacy. Some of the predictions sound fairly obvious to me, like better graphic fidelity in games. Others sound like the modern-day equivalent of the personal helicopters and jet packs predicted in days of yore, such as replacing TVs with Star Wars-style hologram generators and making movies interactive the way video games are. (Please, people. I still can’t even afford an HD set.)
Somewhat ironically, one area that doesn’t receive much speculation is how media funding models will need to change. There is the usual note of concern regarding the leakage of private data to advertisers and the public at large, which I agree is problematic and already underway. I also think it’s relevant to note, though, that I don’t see a single ad when I visit this article onlineâ€”just a couple large expanses of whiteness breaking up the layout, one with a little “play” arrow in the middle giving me the option to display a Flash graphic I have no interest in seeing. I, like most visitors on this site, I imagine, use a browser that blocks all pop-up windows, suppresses Flash, and effectively “disappears” banner ads. When this becomes even more commonplace, how will content publishers online monetize what they do? Many webcomics creators have relied on an enthusiastic niche following to support them through merchandising, premium content, and gifts, but not everybody on the web is running a comic-cum-fashion boutique with a dedicated fan following.
I’m curious how readers here evaluate the predictions made in this article, what kinds of predictions you might make yourselvesâ€”or, if you prefer, whether you such articles are an exercise in foolishness or futility. Please feel free to sound off in the comments or drop me a link if you blog about it yourself.