My predictions for the forthcoming year:

  1. Location, location, location: We will see much greater use of location-based services. Why? Google Maps mashups are becoming more ubiquitous, due to the ease of use, and consumers are buying hardware which can exploit such information, such as GPS devices, mobile phones with GPS (or alternative) support for locations, etc. We are seeing a number of small-scale experiments (I have been geo-locating my events this year, and Northumbria University has recently announced a UK University locator service). This year we’ll see such experiments moving to services.
  2. Web 2 services come and go, but become ubiquitous: there will be some great new Web 2.0 services – and we’ll start to make use of ones which the early adopters are already using (PageFlakes, anyone?). But others will fail to avoid the ‘chasm’ in the Gartner hype curve for new technologies. However we will develop better models for evaluating and deploying Web 2.0 services, and the sustainable services will become widely deployed. And the endless debates about the ‘Web 2.0’ term will diminish.
  3. W3C wars will continue: We’ll hear more about the battles within W3C in areas such as XHTML 2.0 and HTML 5, Web Services, the Semantic Web and WCAG 2.0. Stripping away the technical debate, we’ll realise that the arguments are between the idealists (“we’ll throw away HTML and start again and get it right”) and the pragmatists (“HTML won’t go away; we need to improve it incrementally”).
  4. We’ll discover that we are a Community of Practice: The term “community of practice” will become more widely used and after an initial period of unease with this phrase (similar to last year’s criticisms of ‘Web 2.0’) the UK Web development community, especially those who attend the Institutional Web Management Workshops or engage in debate on the mailing lists) will realise that it has been a community of practice for several years and will exploit a wider range of social networking tools to build on the strengths of the community.
  5. Use of existing services vs developing new services: There will be a split in the development community between those who feel there’s a need to develop new tools and services and those who argue that it is better to make use of existing tools and services. It may take some time before a hybrid approach is developed.
  6. We become more flexible about IPR: We’ll discover that copyright holders start to realise that user-generated content which makes use of copyrighted materials can actually be beneficial to the copyright holder (by exposing their materials to new audiences and by providing new business models, for example). We will start to deploy less rigid policies – and discover that this makes it easier to get services off the ground and attract audiences – with Creative Commons licences providing a valuable starting point.
  7. Management of user IDs for Web 2.0 services will be a major challenge: As staff and students leave their institutions they will realise that many of the Web 2.0 services for which an email address provides the authentication, cannot be managed after the institutional email address is withdrawn. This will be recognised as a major challenge which will need to be addressed.

Any comments on these predictions?