WhatfettleA Vision of The Web in 2008

A Vision of the Web in 2008

As someone who previously poured scorn on someone calling themselves a futurologist, I surprised myself by being disappointed by a dearth of predictions on the blogsphere this New Year. So here's my attempt to fix this, and keep Kerry Buckley company. Whilst reading this tosh, please note that I'm working on the William Gibson principle that the future is already with us, it's just unevenly distributed. So this doesn't account for Black Swans. Also being something of a complete Pollyanna there are no Storm Botnets or tales from the dark side in my rather swirly Vision of The Web in 2008:

Site Specific Browsers
Forget the lockin promised by Rich Internet Applications no matter how shiny they might be, and to some extent ignore widgets and gadgets, the darlings of the moment and look out for some really cool site specific browsers. Adding a sandbox to get around security concerns and a support for offline with some cluey caching to the likes of Prism or Fluidapp and you've something more than good enough!
We've had glimpses of this pattern in Jaiku, onaswarm, lifestre.am and Facebook's attention stream, but if you jam all your feeds into one page, and then add all your friends' feeds, the result isn't all that compelling. I can't quite believe APML is the magic sieve which will make lifestreaming useable, but have no doubt this area will see interesting advances in 2008.
Open Data
Following from lifestreaming, that rich 'mericans motivated to put their bank account details into a single web site just to make sense of their worth, comes as a surprise to many in blighty. We'll continue to hear from people demanding ready access to their own data. Bigcorp, you might think of yourself as the custodian of my bills, appointments, phone records, texts and phone messages but it's my data, and I want it as iCal, Atom, JSON or XML, thankyouverymuch!
Social Networks
Once people are motivated to collect their streams in one place, then we might finally see social networking aggregation rather than portability. I'm still waiting to see what Kevin Marks and Brad Fitzpatrick are really working on as I still can't really believe Open Social was it. I'm betting some simpler patterns will emerge for combining OAuth with XFN to slurp your contacts into a new app, Dopplr style.
Along with Vista, the WS-* trojan horse that is Cardspace was received with a global meh. Pointless point-to-point Federation will continue to be ignored whilst OpenID in version 2 will continue to make progress as people finally realise authentication doesn't always have to equate to trust and URIs are people too.
Towards VRM
Searching for anything to do with games results in pages of splogs containing Google and other splash ads. Someone is paying for this nonsense, and yes it's us when we buy stuff. Maybe with advances in Identity, Social Networks and delegation it will be possible to start turning the tables on CRM with Vendor Relationship Management, and you know everyone will be the happier for it.
In 2007 we saw the power of combining feeds, pipes, with Twitter's abstracted address book, presence done right, feeds and cool URI for every message. Twitter continues to be the one to watch precisely because of its simple Web exposure and constraints in the just the right places. As for more responsive eventing, watch out for more on comet and XMPP. As for ESB? YAGNI!
Programming Languages
Ruby?, Erlang?, Scala? Rebol? C# 3.0? (ha-ha!) Nope, this year I be mostly hacking Javascript!
In spite of one of the best talks at this year's great Future of Web Apps repeatedly using the popularity of my sucky phone as an example of why mobile web development is so hard, I haven't been bitten by my desire for an iPhone, mainly due to it being closed platform and not 3G, and not having GPS. An iPhone with all three would truly be a game changer. Fingers crossed.
Open Source
Strategy used to be the process of looking at your suppliers, putting your eggs in one basket or trying to divine some kind of lowest common denominator across a set of vendor roadmaps. Adoption of standards were seen as the best way of ensuring you could switch suppliers. With Open Source that's no longer the case. As everyone now knows, innovation happens elsewhere, and in 2007 that was from a myriad of small but significant Open Source projects. In a nutshell: "Vendor led is now dead". This year will continue to witness the snapping up bright things who've taken the industry forward, demonstrating software skills in the open, often from the comfort of their bedroom. We'll also see enterprise developers realising often the best way to achieve widespread adoption of infrastructure code within their own company, as well as reducing the cost of maintenance and support, is by releasing Open Source. One area this still remains a challenge is in the field of design. Agile development and Open Source haven't always led to good user interfaces or experiences, so I'm hoping 2008 will see better understanding of why The inmates shouldn't continue to run the asylum. That's certainly something we're thinking about a lot over in Osmosoft.
My 2007 was punctuated by a series of frank farewells to the silly world of Web services. Sadly for some still stuck in the Enterprise Software Swamps, the debate apparently rumbles on, but for me in 2008, the war is over, and beyond wrapping up the databinding work, I won't be sullied with SOAP, or its stupid squabbling, and I'm so happy about that!
They hit the big time in 2007 by opening up deservedly grabbing significant attention, then made a whole bunch of mistakes, and yet we're all still there. With Beacon demonstrated how they only see us as captive eyeballs on adverts. As Doc Searls nicely put it "advertising used to be about bullshit in your face, now your face is bullshit". They'll continue to learn and slowly reinvent themselves, we've seen a little of this already with the welcome data feeds and back-peddling on content-free bacn, but as long as they try to lock you in by owning your "graph", they're doomed to be replaced by someone more deserving of our trust.
Bubble Pop
Finally, a rather wishful goodbye to the schismatic influence of TechCrunch and the current crop of similar egocentric commentators. It's somehow ironic how much of Web 2.0's supposedly wise crowd can't fail but unthinkingly echolalia the agenda of the so-called 'A' list bloggers. I'm sure they're all super-nice guys, but PR Bullshit 2.0 is still PR Bullshit and you know that when the bubble pops, it'll be all over their faces.

Hope you like the drawing, and the hyperlink DOS attack that is this post. Happy New Year!