We live in a world of absolutes: Here’s what happened. Even when we look to the future, our predictions are couched in the world’s sometimes difficult realities. See if you can guess which prediction I’m talking about. ~ Dean Kosage
It can, to be honest, take all the fun out of guess work. So, once a year I allow myself to go beyond the likely, beyond the possible and deep into the world of the implausible. What follows are my most ridiculous and unlikely predictions. Most are just nuts, but one is, to be honest, all too scarily possible.
1. Facebook Buys Digg
Facebook’s 2012 will look a lot like its 2011: More growth, more change. Still, it hasn’t quite broken through on the content curation and voting side of things. With all the friction less sharing people will be doing, they may no longer think about accumulating “likes.”
Digg started using Facebook’s Open Graph in 2011, which makes it easy to share what you’re reading on Digg to Facebook. As I see it, this is simply the first step on the road to a much deeper relationship. When Facebook buys Digg next year, users will get the ability to “Digg” not only profile pages, but people. That’s right, you could really “Digg” someone on Facebook. It’s so 1976, but also so cool.
I foresee another side to the Facebook universe where people, places and things are Dugg on a more generalized basis, but those Diggs bubble up to individual profile pages and appear alongside Likes, Readings, Watching, etc. There is an 85% chance that all of Digg’s existing audience will walk away from the service if this acquisition happens, but I’m not sure most of them will stay with the content curation destination anyway.
2. Scientists and Hollywood Develop New Way to End Movies
3D has pretty much flopped, and it’s getting tougher and tougher to get movie-goers into theaters. Scientists will partner with Hollywood studios to unveil a new technology known as “Fresh Ends.” Using CGI, Hollywood script writers, voice and context recognition and logic algorithms, Fresh Ends technology will generate new endings for some of the world’s most popular films. These slightly rewritten movies will be re-released to theaters — just like the 3D rereleases — and are expected to add 15- to 20% additional box office returns to each film. For now, Fresh Ends only works with movies shot digitally.
3. SOPA Becomes the Law of the land
Myopic congressman and a distracted president take the Stop Online Privacy Act and pass it into law. Designed, at least according to the bill, “To promote prosperity, creativity, entrepreneurship, and innovation by combating the theft of U.S. property, and for other purposes,” SOPA has an almost unprecedented chilling effect on the web. Thousands of U.S. sites shut down, other larger ones continue, but are now full of boring pap that could never be misconstrued as content piracy.
Content creators of all stripes are so unsure of what will be labeled piracy they struggle to create anything. By the end of 2012, however, an underground Internet (The UnderWebs) arises. It’s full of unfettered communication and content, and slowly but surely, millions of web surfers around the world begin using it instead of the government-policed Internet — a platform that dies a sad, quiet death in 2018.
4. Apple Intros a 5-inch Tablet Phone Hybrid
Sorry, no iPhone 5 or iPad 3. Unable to decide whether it should deliver a 7-inch iPad 3 or a 4.5-inch iPhone 5,Apple comes down squarely in the middle with a giant handheld that, naturally, makes calls and is almost large enough to be a usable tablet. The hidden bonus? It’s also a fully functional HDTV. Apple, however, will remain mum for most of the year on whether or not it plans on actually delivering a larger Apple iTV.
5. Google+ Takes Center Stage
Virtually unchanged for more than a decade, Google’s search page undergoes a subtle, yet important transformation. The search giant places a “+” sign right next to the “Google” Logo. But the change is more than logo-deep. If you hit your own “+” sign on your keyboard before typing in your search query, all results will feature Google+ search results on top. If you hit “+” twice, your search query can be used to launch a new Google+ post. You’ll still have to select which circles you want to share your search query with. Rumors will swirl throughout 2012 that Google wants to rename the entire company “Google+.”
6. Honda Releases Asimo to Consumers
Japanese auto manufacturer Honda shocks the world by unveiling a fully operational, $1,999 Honda Asimo Home Helper Robot. Like the Asimo we’ve seen in product demonstrations and on YouTube, “Home Asimo” can walk, run, jump, make coffee and sandwiches and, as we soon learn, clean toilets. Honda sells a stunning half million units before August, 2012. The most startling news, though, comes when one Home Honda robot in Dearborn, Michigan turns on its family’s computer and signs itself up for Twitter and Facebook. By December, more than 300,000 of the robots have been destroyed or returned.