The op-ed page of the LA Times solicited commentary from a full slate of futurist technology pundits who, as it turns out, have nothing but good things to say about the year ahead. The future is so bright, I've got to go buy some tech stocks! Most of them are plugging specific products or services; either that, or analysis has devolved into the old tired/wired dichotomy. Aside from the one-phrase bylines, there are no financial interest disclosures here. I thought those had become de rigueur in the business and financial press, but apparently not so for editorials.
Aside from Ballmer, none featured here are in the hardware business. None are in the infrastructure business. Is this a signal? Are we done there? What of Intel, AMD, Motorola, Broadcom, etc.?
I am especially struck by the pundits' more-of-the-same ideas; perhaps this is partly due to the too-near horizon established by the paper. Ballmer is spun up about policy-based ring-tones; what is that, like, a few hundred lines of code? Sherman is touting Second Life. Several are enamored of YouTube and the slow collapse of broadcast. Barry sees nothing but upside -- freedom! -- in having your entire life's "state" on a memory stick; not content to simply ignore the question of risk, he concludes that the lowest risk option is to carry your digital medical records, tax returns, and a lifetime of recorded communications (voice, video, text, other) in something that could drop from your pocket onto the city sidewalk without notice.
Where are the new applications, the new ideas? The "personal genomics kit" is tantalizing, but Brockman offers no explanation. You can find more here and here. I think people might be as much or more interested in a kit of the variety described by Freeman Dyson -- more of a "toy with consequences", along the lines of a high school chemistry set. (I note that there are as yet zero Google hits for that phrase.)
A few thoughts:
The Internet may start to experience some major growing pains in 2007. IPv6 has been stillborn, known routing problems remain unresolved, and the IPv4 address space is nearing its limits. From the consumer perspective, we are nearly at the end of end to end; by the end of 2007, we may see the start of a trend in which residential broadband Internet service ceases to include a public IP address. 2008 could bring the era of double- and triple-NATted networks.
Vista enhancements notwithstanding, and the industry alarmists put aside, Internet security is in a rather dismal state.
What will they think of next?