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    This is the personal blog of Simon Kendrick and covers my interests in media, technology and popular culture. All opinions expressed are my own and may not be representative of past or present employers
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Predictions for 2011

In the grand tradition of December blog posts, here are seven predictions for 2011:

<sarcasm filter>

  • A niche technology will grow
  • Businesses to focus less on the short-term bottom line and more on consumer needs for a long-term sustainable relationship
  • Traditional media/methods will take several more steps closer to its death
  • Social media will become more important within organisations
  • Companies will banish silo thinking and restructure around a holistic vision with multi-skilled visionaries at the helm
  • The product will be the only marketing needed
  • A company will launch a new product with these precise specifications…

</sarcasm filter>

1999 A.D. / Predictions From 1967

I think the tone and style of my predictions are about right. They run the spectrum from bland tautology to wild guesswork with plenty of jargon and generalisation thrown in.

Given how utterly useless predictions are, why do people persist? I presume they pander to people’s love of lists while gambling on their inherent laziness in not checking accuracy of previous predictions and hoping that, as with horoscopes, people read their own truths into open statements.

I’ve had the displeasure of running across numerous offenders in the past month. I won’t name check them all but, unsurprisingly perhaps, the tech blogs are the worst offenders. This example from Read Write Web and these two examples from Mashable are particularly mind-numbing in both their blandness and unlikeliness.

Living on the bleeding edge can massively skew perspective. I’m sure Cuil (remember them?), Bebo and Minidiscs have all featured in predictions of game-changing technology. In other past predictions, you can probably swap “virtual reality” for “augmented reality” or “geo-location”, or Google for Facebook or Twitter, and recycle old predictions for different time periods.

The basic truth is that the future is unpredictable. We are micro participants trying to define macro trends. A reliance on logical step-progression completely overlooks the serendipity and unanticipated innovation that characterises long-term trends, which constantly ebb and flow as tastes change and rebound against the status quo.

Take popular music as an illustration. The most popular acts of one year don’t predict the most popular acts of the following year. Tastes evolve (and revolve) with pop, rock, urban (I intensely dislike that word but can’t think of a better one), electronic and dance being in the ascendency at different points in the past twenty years.

With honourable exceptions, business and technological breakthroughs are revolutionary rather than evolutionary (note I have quite a wide definition of revolutionary). To give some examples

  • 2 years ago how many people would have predicted that an online coupon site would be one of the fast growing companies of all time
  • 5 years ago how many people would have predicted that a social network would be the most visited website in the UK
  • 7 years ago how many people would have predicted that company firewalls would be rendered obsolete by internet-enabled phones
  • 10 years ago how many people would have predicted that Apple would change the way mobile phones are perceived
  • 15 years ago how many people would have predicted that a search engine dominated advertising revenues
  • 20 years ago how many people would have predicted that every business would need a presence on the internet

Undoubtedly, some people would have made these predictions. But to use the well-worn cliché, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Despite my negativity, I recognise that there are some benefits to offering predictions. It opens up debate around nascent movements and trends and adds to their momentum, and provides a forum for authors to say where they’d like things to be in addition to where they think things will be.

If only so many weren’t so badly written.

(NB: I recognise by saying that I open myself up to accusations of poor writing, to which I fully admit)


Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/blile59/4707767185/


My five fives of 2010

I hope you have all had a relaxing break. Mine was enjoyable, albeit brief. In amidst the eating and film viewing, I caught up on a substantial portion of my reading (alas, not as substantial as I’d like but I have to get to the middle before I can get to the end).

My reading has inspired me to outline several potential posts. As it stands, I’m not sure when I’ll have the time to write them but as a stopgap, and following on from last year’s post, here are my top fives of 2010.

Top 5 Films

(Released in UK cinemas in 2010, which I have seen. Links point to IMDB)

  1. Inception
  2. Toy Story 3
  3. Un Prophete
  4. Buried
  5. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

Note: I’m yet to see Chatroom, but I’m not expecting that to enter the list

Top 5 Albums

(Released in the UK in 2010, which I have heard. Links point to Spotify where available)

  1. The Suburbs by Arcade Fire
  2. Body Talk by Robyn
  3. High Violet by The National
  4. Odd Blood by Yeasayer
  5. Treats by Sleigh Bells

Top 5 Gigs

(That I attended in 2010)

  1. Joanna Newsom @ Royal Festival Hall
  2. Arcade Fire @ The O2
  3. Pavement @ Brixton Academy
  4. Rodrigo y Gabriela @ Latitude Festival
  5. Broken Social Scene @ The Forum

Top 5 Books

(That I read in 2010 – as with last year I’m struggling to even get a top five. Links point to Amazon)

  1. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon – also in my top 5 all-time reads
  2. Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets by David Simon – my review here
  3. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
  4. The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson
  5. On the Road by Jack Kerouac

Top 5 iPhone games

(My reading list hasn’t substantially altered over the past year, so with apologies to those new blogs I’ve enjoyed this year, I’ve decided to change the topic to one that has taken up more of a substantial part of my time. I decided against doing apps as a whole as social networks or information based apps provide a very different function. Links point to iTunes store)

  • Angry Birds – Goes without saying. I’ve spent a lot of time playing this over the past year. I even have 3 stars on each level in the 11 stages
  • Game Dev Story – a charming port from an old Japanese RPG game, where you run a small studio developing games for different, evolving consoles over a 20 year period. Likenesses to any real-life consoles or people are purely coincidental.
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – do I pay ¬£30 for the Nintendo DS version, or a tenth of that for a near identical version on my phone? No choice
  • Streets of Rage – reliving my Megadrive youth. I’m waiting for Streets of Rage 2, which was far superior
  • The Sims 3 – I’ve now been fully sucked into the Sims universe, not only completing every goal on this but also purchasing the Ambitions follow-up, as well as the PC version

If you’ve been reading this blog for some time, I thank you for your attention. If you are new, welcome and I hope you find something of interest. I wish you all have a wonderful 2011.