However, many of these “leading thinkers” are frustratingly vague in their prognostications. “Facebook will continue to be popular” and “Twitter goes mainstream” do not qualify as bold predictions.
Unlike these “thought leaders”, I am willing to go out on a limb for you the reader, and come back with real specifics. Here then are the Agitationist’s predictions for the web world in 2009:
“Identity aggregation” is the prevailing theme of 2009. This gains momentum throughout January, as Facebook acquires OpenID, FriendConnect and FriendFeed, and folds them into Facebook Connect, which will now be used to log on to all social networks, bank accounts, and porn sites.
CPT (cost-per-tweet) becomes a primary advertising metric. Google buys Twitter for a record sum; Twitter admits this was its long-awaited “monetization plan“.
In February, someone claims to be a “Pro Twitterer“; there is no way to refute the claim.
Microsoft products worldwide cease to function at 12:00am on March 1st 2009, as they fail to adjust to the non-leap year. A fix (code-named “Toaster”) is be scheduled to be released by July, but fails to materialize.
After a fierce battle with Yahoo, Google acquires Facebook, and mashes up Facebook Connect with its own ID service OpenSocial (ironically using Yahoo Pipes). Google shuts down Orkut; no one is affected.
The triumphant Google launches a new social platform, connecting all your tweets, text messages, emails, bookmarks, contacts, comments, feeds, photos, calendars, status updates, and Wikipedia entries into one SocialID™.
Google then uses a proprietary algorithm to assign you a PeopleRank™, which determines your online authority, social status, earning potential and suitability for employment.
GFriends™ on your TrustList™ are able to follow your LifeFeed™ and GoogleMap™ your real-world location (or “meat-spot“), thanks to your SocialID™-enabled mobile device.
Controversy ensues when a whistle-blower claims the US government has covertly installed its own server room in the Googleplex to monitor private citizens’ LifeFeeds™. However, this is widely seen as a necessary protection against terrorism, and a class-action lawsuit is quickly dismissed.
Oversharing becomes expected social behavior, and the desire for privacy is seen as petty and prudish. Within three years, PeopleRank™ is planned to include fingerprints, SAT scores, credit reports, and criminal records.
“Identity theft” is replaced by the more serious crime of “Aggregated Identity Theft“, and companies compete to offer PeopleRank™ monitoring services for a monthly fee.
A new phone is released that is so cool, it makes you think your phone sucks. You purchase this phone, but someone you know then gets a newer, cooler phone.
In late June, Oprah does a show on getting negative people out of your LifeFeed™.
With online identities consolidating rapidly, screen-name squatting becomes the domain-name squatting of 2009. Shaquille O’Neal buys the right to tweet under his own name for an undisclosed sum. After receiving a cease-and-desist letter, eBay shuts down an auction for the screen name “Beyoncé”. Diff’rent Strokes star Gary Coleman attempts to auction off his own name; the reserve price is not met.
Google is contracted to provide airport screening services for the TSA. President Obama defends this move as part of his “Google for Government” initiative.
However, there is a dark spot for Google in August, when it discovers that AdSense is nothing more than a massive pay-per-link scheme. Google penalizes itself by reducing its own PageRank from 10 to 0.
Throughout the summer there has been a growing backlash against Google’s hegemony, and rebellious users begin moving to Yahoo.
However, there is a scandal in September, as a Yahoo employee leaves a briefcase containing Yahoo’s exclamation point in an airport lounge. Yahoo rapidly loses consumer trust and market share, and its stock price dives under $2.00. Microsoft succeeds in a hostile takeover, breaks up Yahoo and sells it for parts.
The exclamation point is found, and donated to the new “Web 1.0 Museum”, which opens in September on the campus of Stanford University, in a building shaped like a giant bubble.
YouTube covers 75% of its video frame with advertising, adds pop-up balloons containing sponsored messages, and randomly replaces video soundtracks with jingles for the new YouTube-brand energy drink. Somehow, competitors still fail to gain significant market share.
NewsCorp buys the “Girls Gone Wild” franchise and folds it into MySpace, completing the site’s transition into the teen soft-porn market. Market share plummets, but profits skyrocket.
There is controversy when it is revealed that MySpace’s “Tom” has been dead for several years, and his profile is being operated by a low-paid employee in Bangalore. “Tom” is de-friended by 2.5 million people in one day, a Guinness world record in this newly-created category.
Predictions for the year are reviewed, and found to be either eerily accurate or totally off-base.