Thanks largely to the Internet, long-standing monopolies and power imbalances are being challenged as more people from more regions of the world connect, collaborate, and compete on the global stage. Young digital natives everywhere are questioning the historic traditions of venerable institutions such as the university, the newspaper, and the entire apparatus of representative government. The pace of this change is quickening, as we now operate on Internet time.
Below are the most important trends and developments I foresee in the coming year. I welcome your comments. Do you agree with my forecast? What have I missed?
- Rather than just an economic downturn, more people will recognize that we’re at the beginning of something profound. The industrial economy and many of its institutions are reaching the end of their lifecycle— from newspapers and old models of financial services to our energy grid, transportation systems and institutions for global cooperation and problem solving.
- The further rise of Global Risks. We are moving into an age where profound threats are emerging to the global economy, society and even the very existence of humanity. Failure of the financial system, weapons of mass destruction, new communicable diseases, collapse of environmental systems, water security and many other threats make the world a volatile place.
- Worldwide generational conflict will grow. Around the planet young adults are asserting themselves in the workplace and in political arenas. Protests against entrenched governments are increasing in frequency and severity.
- Media upheaval will continue. More of the music consumer’s dollar will go into the pockets of artists and less to the music labels. The industry will awaken to the need to sell music as a service rather than a product. TV will continue down the path of becoming simply another app on the web.
- Where traditional print newspapers continue to wither, innovative news ecosystems such as the Huffington Post are growing and will claim a larger percentage of the advertising dollar. HuffPo has become an influential player in American business, political and social life.
- We will see collapse of the app. Rather than writing applications to run on separate mobile operating systems, developers will return to the uniformity of web sites accessed through browsers.
- The Age of Hyper Transparency will arrive. Right now it’s the US government, but Wikileaks founder Julian Assange says private-sector companies are next, starting with the financial services industry. So if your corporation is going to be naked – and you really have no choice in the matter – you’d better be buff.
- There will be a social media privacy backlash. With the meteoric rise of social media, we are increasingly willing accomplices in undermining our own privacy rights. Privacy is the Achilles Heel of sites such as Facebook.
- The battle over net neutrality will intensify. Internet Service Providers will continue their campaign to charge premium prices for certain kinds of content, while content providers will want all Internet traffic treated fairly. The biggest confrontations will be in the wireless realm.
- The interdependence of actions and events means we have no option other than to try to encourage and enforce mutual cooperation through a new division of labor among the four key pillars of society: business, government, the civic sector and a new pillar enabled by the Internet – the individual citizen.
Share your thoughts.