Predictions for 2012

How will the technology environment develop during 2012? I’m willing to set myself up for a fall my outlining my predictions for 2012 ūüôā

Tablet Computers …

After a couple of years in which use of smart phones, whether based on Apple’s iOS or Goole’s Android operating system), became mainstream for many when away from the office, 2012 will see use of Tablets becoming mainstream, with the competition provided by vendors of Android continue to bring the prices for those reluctant to pay a premium for an iPad.

Once the new term starts we’ll see increased numbers of students who received a Tablet PC for Christmas making use of them, not only for watching videos and listening to music in their accommodation, but also in lectures. As well as note-taking the devices, together with smart phones, will be used for recording lectures. In some cases this will lead to concerns regarding ownership and privacy infringements but¬†students will argue that they are paying for their education and they should be entitled to time-shift their lecturers. Since it will be difficult to prevent students from making such recordings lecturers will start to encourage such practices and will seek to develop an understanding of when comments made during lecturers and tutorials should be treated as ‘off-the-record’.

Open Practices …

Such lecturers will be providing one example of an ‘open practice’. Such encouragement of recording or broadcasting lecturers will become the norm in several research areas, with organisers of research conferences acknowledging that they will need to provide an event amplification infrastructure (including free WiFi for participants, an event hashtag, live streaming or recording of key talks) in order to satisfy the expectations of those who are active in participation in research events.

Such open practices will complement more well-established examples of openness including open access and open content, such as open educational resources. We’ll see much greater use of Creative Commons licences, especially licence which minimise barriers to reuse.

Social Applications …

Social applications will become ubiquitous, although the term may be rebranded in order to avoid the barrier to use faced by those who regard the term ‘social’ as meaning ‘personal’ or ‘trivial’. Just as Web 2.0 became rebranded as the Social Web and the Semantic Web as Linked Data, we shall see such applications being marked as collaborative or interactive services.

Social networking services will continue to grow in importance across the higher education sector. However the view that the popularity of such services will be dependent on conformance with a particular set of development (open source and distributed) or ownership criteria (must not be owned by a successful multi-national company) will be seen to be of little significance. Rather than a growth in services such as or Diaspora, we will see Facebook continue to develop (with its use by organisations helped by mandatory legal requirements regarding conformance with EU privacy legislation described in a post on 45 Privacy Changes Facebook Will Make To Comply With Data Protection Law). In addition to Facebook, Twitter and Google+ will continue to be of importance across the sector.

Learning and Knowledge Analytics ….

The ubiquity of mobile devices coupled with greater use of social applications as part of a developing cultural of open practices will lead to an awareness of the importance of learning and knowledge analytics. Just as in the sporting arena we have seen huge developments in using analytic tools to understand and maximise sporting performances, we will see similar approaches being taken to understand and maximise intellectual performance, in both teaching and learning and research areas.

Collective Intelligence

Just as the combination of developments will help us to have a better understanding of intellectual performance, so too will these development help to in the growth of Collective Intelligence, described in Wikipedia as the “shared or¬†group intelligence¬†that emerges from the collaboration and competition of many individuals and appears in¬†consensus decision making¬†in bacteria, animals, humans and computer networks“. The driving forces behind Collective Intelligence will be the global players which have access to large volumes of data and the computational resources (processing power and storage) to analyse the data.

How Will I Know If I’m Right?

In a way it is easy to make predictions. A greater challenge is being able to demonstrate that such predictions have come true. How might we go about deciding, in December 2012, whether these predictions reflect reality?

Monitoring Trends

There will be statistics which can help support the predictions. For example a few days ago Glyn Moody tweeted that:

Google announces 3.7m¬†#Android¬†activations over the Christmas weekend –¬†¬†impressive

But there are a range of other indicators which can help to spot trends which may be applicable.

A Google Trend comparison of the terms ‘tablet computer’ and ‘smartphone’ currently show the greater popularity of the latter term although there was a peak in searches for ‘tablet computer’ after the news (labelled F in the screenshot) that “India launches $35 tablet computer“.

Using Wikipedia

Wikipedia articles may also have a role to play. For example we can compare the entries for tablet computer and collective intelligence between January and December 2011 which might help to provide a better understanding of how the Wikipedia community is describing these terms. Similarly looking for the usage statistics for these two entries shows 40,567 visits in January and 73,181 in November 2011 for the entry for tablet computer and 10,711 visits in January and 11,126 in November 2011 for the entry for collective intelligence.

In addition to the content coverage and usage statistics for Wikipedia articles, the creation of an article may also indicate that the term has become significant. It is interesting to note that there is currently no entry for ‘open practice’. Will this have changed by this time next year, I wonder?

Snapshots of Social Network Usage

I have previously provided snapshots of institutional use of Facebook from November 2007 up to January 2011, together with similar surveys of institutional use of services such as Twitter, YouTube and iTunes. It would be interesting to capture early examples of institutional uses of Google+, and Diaspora. However I am currently unaware of such institutional uses. Until I discover some examples I will provide a personal summary of my uses of these services.

Service Nos. of posts Nos. of followers Nos. I follow
Google+ 12 170 476
Diaspora   1    5    5   5  10   9

This data was gathered on 29 December 2011. It will be interesting to see how this compares with the data for the end of 2012. Of course the above table only indicates the extent of my interest and engagement with the services. I have documented these figures so I will be able to benchmark any changes on my usage of these services over the year.

Institutional Trends

It will be interesting to see examples of institutional trends, perhaps by observing topics presented at conferences and also by reading about new developments. One useful source of new developments is Chris Sexton’s From a Distance blog. Chris,¬†Director of Corporate Information and Computing Services at the University of Sheffield, has recently published a post entitled¬†Tablet News¬†in which she describes how:

Today sees the publication of our newsletter, myCiCSnews, which can be downloaded as a pdf from¬†here.¬†There’s articles on learning technologies, research on the campus compute cloud, information security, and many more.
For the first time we’ve made it available in a tablet version, which works really well on iPads and other tablets, and includes embedded video etc.

The Flip Side

The flip side of the growth in use of new services and in discussions about the benefits of such services is the criticisms of such developments.

Criticism and scepticism can take several forms. We can probably remember when mobile phones were large and expensive and, together with the yuppies and businessmen who could afford such devices, were the butt of jokes on comedy sketches.

Mike Ellis has provided his take on the development of online reputation tools such as Klout in his Klunt parody which he announced on Twitter back in September.

We are unlikely to see this example in the Daily Mail but I think we can expect middle England to express outrage at some of the developments I’ve described in this post.

We have already come across examples of the way in which Facebook, Twitter and Blackberry phones have been used to organise illegal events or promote riots. I wonder if the Android tablet will be next in line to race the wrath of the Daily Mail?

Or perhaps the success will be indicated by the backlash. Might we find that the move towards open practices beyond the early adopters will be met by opposition from those who point out the legal risks of such practices, with examples of such risks becoming widely tweeted and retweeted?

Revisiting Predictions

On 29 December 2010 I asked Will #Quora Be Big In 2011? It is difficult to provide an answer to that question. Looking at the Wikipedia article for Quora I find that others also felt that the service would be significant:

Quora has been praised by several publications such as New York Times, USA Today, Time Magazine and The Daily Telegraph.[28][29][30][31]

According to¬†Robert Scoble, Quora succeeded in combining attributes of¬†Twitter,¬†Facebook,¬†Google Wave¬†and various websites that employ a system of users voting content up.[32]¬†Scoble later criticized Quora, however, saying that it was a “horrid service for blogging,” and while it was a decent question and answer website, it was not substantially better than competing sites.[33]¬†The¬†Daily Telegraph¬†of the¬†United Kingdom¬†has predicted that Quora will go on to become larger than¬†Twitter¬†in the future.[31][34]¬†Quora, along with¬†Airbnb¬†and¬†Dropbox, has been named among the next generation of multibillion dollar start-ups by the¬†New York Times.[35]

Quora itself hosts a question which asks How fast is Quora growing on a weekly basis? What are the growth metrics? However the responses fail to give a clear answer to this question.

I intend to revisit this post in December 2012. I’d welcome suggestions on additional ways in which it will be possible to detect if predictions have become true. I’d also welcome comments on the predictions I’ve outlined in this post.

Twitter conversation from Topsy: [View]