Britain Faces Worst Year Since 1930s, warns IMF” screams an article on the front page of today’s Guardian.  It seems that that the International Monetary Fund has warned Britain that it will be at the bottom of the league table of major developed countries this year.

And although many will share a feeling of optimism at the recent political changes in the US, here in the UK we can’t blame Thatcher for this one.  And we can’t even blame Tony Blair – after all, who was the Chancellor of the Exchequer for all those years?

So what does this means for our networked services? What does it mean for those Web 2.0 services many of us know and love?

It now seems a long time since I used the line “People say Google may go out of business, but banks could also go out of business. But we don’t put our savings under the mattress just in case this happens “. That later evolved to “People say Google may go out of business, but, as we know, banks also go out of business. But we don’t put our savings under the mattress as we know this has happened“.  Should we now be saying “Google services have gone out of business – look at Jaiku, for example.  I’ve already moved my data to the safety of my institution.  You’re foolhardy if you don’t do likewise.“?

Well if you work at London Metropolitan University you’re probably more concerned about the sustainability of your own position and your institution rather than Britain’s economic woes.  As described on the UCU Web siteLondon Metropolitan University has recently had a cut of £18 million in its teaching budget and HEFCE has confirmed that it intends to ‘claw back’ £38 million in past funding as a result of inaccurate returns on student completion rates“.

But to shrug our shoulders and say “we’ll all doomed – not just economically, but also with global warning” is a defeatist attitude I don’t go along with.

I’ll be giving some thought about what I think we should be doing (in the context of  exploiting Web 2.0 service to support the aims of our institutions). But I’d welcome suggestions from others? Are any institutions making any strategic decisions in this area? After all, we were warned about the implications  for higher education last August by HEFCE’s John Selby.