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Roger Strukhoff

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My Predictions For 2006

Silicon Valley will once again be lauded for its traditional strengths--good educational base, plenty of funding

It is time for all of punditry to clear its collective throat and pronounce precisely what will happen in the upcoming year. As I child I, somewhere back in the 20th century, learned to make fun of astrologist Jean Dixon's puerile prognostications, even as they dominated the newspaper headlines for a day or so at the end of every year.

Yet in our too-modern age, pontifical prognostication is a ubiquitous aspect of the torrent of bits that come flying into our PCs, digital TV signals, and digitally designed newspapers and magazines. It seems as if one is not being serious enough if he or she does not issue his or her annual list of The Big Stories of next year.

In this spirit, SYS-CON recently published a story that featured the fearless  (if sometimes feckless) forecasts from a number of leading industry figures and, well, geeks. The general tone of these seemed to indicate a continued movement toward open-source, loose coupling, and web services.

These are safe bets, and are offered by people who are much more technically oriented than I. So I'll stay away from specific predictions regarding specific technologies, and offer the following observations:

1. The term globalization will continue through its initial Kantian thesis/antithesis stage in 2006, with two sides seemingly talking past one another. On one side are well-fed governmental trade representatives who believe that major WTO/World Bank/IMF/WEF/etc. meetings are platforms suited for ritual listings of their governments demands for Platonic level playing fields. On the other are young anarchists with nothing better (or creative) to do than break windows and attack iconic American symbols.

Some day, the current non-debate debate will evolve into a more serious consideration of what globalization really means. But first we have to get past the ritual Microsoft-hating by many people within the business community and ritual America-hating by many people period. This won't happen in 2006.

2. People in the U.S. will more acutely realize the implications of the competition between China and India for oil, rather than view China through the lens of its potential competition to the U.S. Leaders in India and China steadfastly maintain that they are only trying to bring their people a better life and have no designs on world domination. Americans believe India's leaders; they don't believe China's. In 2006, they will start to as long as some political leader somewhere does not make it a personal agenda to ratchet up conflict between Taiwan and the People's Republic during the year.

3. Open source software will be treated as any other software. This may seem like a good thing to members of the global OSS community, but be careful what you wish for. As OSS increasingly takes its place at the table with the major software companies, it will face the same scrutiny by government agency purchasers, corporate buyers, and the media. It will lose the "judo edge" it has previously had by being disarming in its pricing models and the performance it can deliver in selected applications. By getting its rightful place at the adults' table, it will be fair game for a nice game of corporate Darwinism. Look for IBM, Oracle, Redmond, and other major companies to stop fearing open source and start attacking it again. (Maybe this won't happen until 2007, but it will happen!)

4. The trifecta of losers-to-winners--see Boston Red Sox 2004 and Chicago White Sox 2005--will not be completed. The Cubs will not win the World Series. (Sorry for the U.S.-centric reference, but I can't resist.)

5. The browser will be recognized as an antiquated, obsolete way of locating and viewing information. (Thanks to SYS-CON writer Sean Rhody for first poining this out.) The greatest technology minds will recoil in horror when they realize that no matter what Mozilla, Opera, Safari, or anyone else can accomplish, that the browser needs to be fundamentally reconsidered, rebuilt, and redeployed before the world can move onto the new paradigm of smart, multimedia search and web-centric mission criticality.

6. Silicon Valley will once again be lauded for its traditional strengths--good educational base, plenty of funding, and a warm-weather location set in a highly competitive society with a relatively low level of government interference, theoretically non-existent class structure, and a critical mass of talent that simply cannot be equaled anywhere else in the world. It's good that India is starting to build better roads. It's good that China is slowly emerging as a serious technology headquarters. It's good that hotspots from Toulouse to Gauteng continue a commitment to IT development. And it's always great to hear from the folks in Massachusetts and New York who claim "the Valley" is overrated. Keep on working, folks, but you'll never beat the Bay Area over the long run!

That's it for now. Would rather be dead wrong five times (I'm certain that I'm right about number 4) than 10 times.

Happy New Year!

posted Thursday, 29 December 2005 7 PM EST

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

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