Predictions 2012: The year we all stop being panic junkies and other wishful thinking

So here we are. The beginning of a new year. That means I need to predict some stuff that I think will happen in 2012. (I think I read that once in the official bloggers’ user manual.) For whatever reason, here are some thoughts, predictions and wishful thinking.:

Technology

If you can’t code by the end of 2012, you’ll be a 98-lb. weaking and everyone will laugh at you behind your back. All the cool people are signing up for this: CodeYear.com. Other tech things: For like the 5th year in a row, I’ll predict that GetGlue takes off, however, it won’t really take off, but it will continue to grow. Services like Twitter (perhaps you’ve heard of that mobile message-relay management service), but for small, private groups (say, your family or your business associates), will hit your radar. See: GroupMe.com, recently purchased by Skype or Glassboard.com, started by my friend, Nick Bradbury and Brent Simmons, all-stars from the early days of blogging and RSS hackery.

Business & marketing

Long a topic of great concern and interest among some of the deepest thinkers on the web, the role of customer (user, supporter, member, et al) will grow into a big deal in the real world during 2012. This won’t be about all the things big companies are doing to collect and manipulate customer data (that’s been covered ad nauseum for years). This will be an awareness of things being developed so that customers can collect and use the same type of data to give measurable balance to both sides of any commercial interaction. If technology can be used to bring down governments, can’t it be used to even the data-collection and leverage the playing field between customers and big corporations, between any institution and its grass-roots supporters or membership?  The IPO of Facebook will be the focus of a discussion of the value of relationships vs. products and we will hear lots of laments from the pioneers of online community over what has been built on the foundation they laid. (The laments will be deserved.) The IPO of Facebook will be a milestone, however, not the finish line. As we learn more and more how certain companies view us as hamsters in their cages, we will start to think more-and-more about how our role as customers should evolve. (But again, others started thinking about this long, long ago.) That topic will be explored in a book by one of the Cluetrain Manifesto authors, Doc Searls, that will be published in May, The Intention Economy: When Customers Take Charge. Like I said, this is not a new topic for a lot of people — but it is a very new topic for the vast majority of people who think Facebook is the Internet.

Culture

People will start growing tired of being panic junkies, so they’ll  do one or both of two things: 1. Stop listening to panic-pushers. 2. Seek self-treatment for their panic addiction. Here’s my theory: One doesn’t necessarily have to be optimistic to make it through challenging times. However, if one responds to challenges with panic, failure is a sure bet. Some form of plodding realism, moving through challenges rather than away from them, is the only way I know that works. Yet we live in an era when lots of people seem to be panic junkies. Perhaps to the point where they seek out not-just real panics, but also crave artificial panics, like when you buy a ticket for a ride on a roller-coaster. Fox News and the New York Times are equally at fault for dishing out news in the form of outlier-anecdotes about new diseases or some obscure regulation that make the exception appear to be the norm. There are no longer mere storms — there are killer-storms. The word crisis is applied to anything that can be scrawled across the bottom of a TV screen. Perhaps this is more a wish than a prediction, but at some point, we’ve got to stop puffing on this panic. I’m voting that 2012 be the year this starts.

Elections & Policy

I could have written this a year ago, but here goes: Mitt Romney gets the GOP nomination. A well-funded conservative runs as an independent who will love the publicity without the possibility of actually being elected. (My guess: Sarah Palin.)  Obama is re-elected by carrying Massachusetts. The Republicans lose a few seats in the House, but remain the majority. Republicans gain the majority in the Senate, but nothing near the 60 seats needed to actually control the Senate. And even if the Republicans gain 60, we’ll discover that 60 Republicans doesn’t mean 60 conservatives. We will continue to have, in the Senate, a form of coalition law-making. In other words, don’t look for grid-lock to go away anytime soon. The Supreme Court will rule that mandated health insurance is not un-constitutional. What is called Obama-care will roll out and we will discover it is both worse than and better than we imagined. The worst parts will be addressed. Life will go on. Social Security will become the nation’s most critical issue until lawmakers decide to raise the retirement age and look for some rich people hiding behind trees that can be taxed for the rest of the balancing act necessary. [Note: I am merely predicting the above, not endorsing them.]

Nashville

The Predators will make it past the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Titans make the playoffs (2012-13 season). Nashville continues to move up a few notches in the eyes of non-Nashvillian trend-trackers. Nashvillians start explaining to out of town friends that a city that attracts waves of people who dream of being either healthcare entrepreneurs or professional banjo pickers — or both — can’t be replicated.