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A Year Of Predictions, Six Months In

By - June 13, 2004

nostraD-tm.jpg That last post made me think about this one, in which I predicted, at the beginning of the year, what 2004 might bring. How am I doing, I wondered, six months in?

Well, in the preamble, I thought I’d be done with my book by about now. That was pretty damn funny. Now I hope to be done by Fall, and with luck I just might.

My listed predictions were:

1. The Web becomes a platform (again). Thanks to commerce and service APIs, RSS, and the ubiquitous interface of search, geeks around the world are again leveraging the web as a platform for cool new tools. 2004 will be the year these tools break out in something of a pre-cambrian explosion, reminiscent of the Mac in late 1980s, or CD-ROM in the early 90s. Only cooler. Examples: Grokker, Bloglines, Amazon API.

UPDATE: I think this is not entirely proven, but it feels on the right track. Hey, we even started a conference on the subject…

2. Along those lines (and no surprise to this readership, but still and all…), blog ecologies of like-minded folks will garner increasing cultural and social power. We’ve seen this happen first in the technology and media space, and recently politics has figured it out too. 2004 will see the rest of the world join in, especially in natural communities where power is projected: think professional verticals of finance, law, medicine, marketing. Folks who you never thought would ever blog will be coming online and claiming power. As a result, more blog ecologies will impose registration and/or subscription (the money kind, not the RSS kind…).

UPDATE: I think this is well on its way.

3. The Dutch auction/OpenIPO model will be validated. Not that it isn’t already alive and working – WR Hambrecht is proving that – but 2004 is when a major player (and it need not be Google) will take the lead and fly the bird at traditional Wall Street approaches to going public.

UPDATE: Auction, yes, Dutch, not entirely, and it was indeed Google.

4. Speaking of IPOs, we’ll see a major IPO ($100 million+ sold to public) in search that isn’t Google.

UPDATE: Tom Online, net proceeds $174.9 million, March 10, 2004. Not in the US, but…soon. Marchex doesn’t make the $100 million threshold (market cap is about $250 million).

5. There will be a “Tylenol Scare” in search. One of the majors – AOL, Yahoo, MSN, Google – or possibly more than one will be caught up in a major privacy and/or corporate responsibility crisis. The press and consumers will freak as they realize how important – and imperfect – this thing called search is. There will be much harrumphing, then everyone will calm down, learn from the incident, and move on.

UPDATE: Ding ding ding ding ding.

6. Once a month, a new search player will be crowned in the press as “the next Google.” One of them, in fact, could be the next Google.

UPDATE: Well, maybe not once a month.

7. Second generation blog/RSS aggregation sites will come close to combining directory functions with LinkedIn- and recommendation-engine-like features – think Amazon+Yahoo for the blogosphere….

UPDATE: Not yet, unless I’ve missed something.

8. …at about the same time Yahoo, AOL, MSN, and Google will build or buy second-generation blog/RSS aggregation sites.

UPDATE: Give it time.

9. The world will realize the importance of our digital artifacts, and takes further steps to to preserve them.

UPDATE: So far wishful thinking.

10. Cable companies will control more than 75% of the PVR market, but a backlash/new TiVo-like device (possibly from Apple) will develop by the end of the year.

UPDATE: Developing… and I should have said “Cable and satellite“…

11. Microsoft will have a surprise hit product that has nothing to do with Office or Longhorn, causing a minor fire drill in Redmond.

UPDATE: I guess Channel 9 doesn’t count…but there’s still time.

12. I’ll finish my book, try to stop writing this blog, but find it impossible to do so. Meanwhile, a deeply cool, once-in-a-decade-magazine-I wish-I-had-thought-of will launch.

UPDATE: Not yet…

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  • http://www.unreasonableman.net Ian Yorston

    Doesn’t Bloglines pretty much hit #7 now…

  • http://www.feedster.com Scott Rafer

    Don’t count the modified Dutch auction at Google as a success until it is. There is still significant software risk.

  • ID:entity

    Hey John,

    Would be nice to have your review on pull / push aspects of search, with a view to understanding exactly at what point “agent technologies” are going to play a significant role within IR fields.

    Thinking about the papers presented @ W3c 2004 conference, specifically surrounding the sematic web (Stanford, IBM et al) the convergence of agents, information extraction, information retrieval – would make a really useful article.

    Ok, mabye its a bit too tommorrow for your current bag, but your probably going to cover it off sometime soon no doubt.

    BTW….”stop writing this blog,” I’d pay you to keep it going :)

  • http://glinden.blogspot.com Greg Linden

    Bloglines and Findory Blogory both have recommendations and directory functions. Are they not substantial steps toward the system you describe in #7, a second generation RSS aggregator that combines “directory functions with LinkedIn and Amazon recommendation-engine-features”?

  • http://battellemedia.com John Battelle

    Yes, Greg and Mark, I’d have to say you’re well on your way to proving me right (;-)). Now all you have to do is get bought by yahoo or msn or somesuch and make me look really smart….

  • Mike

    John, I like your blog. It is a standard but you knew that.
    I see the future of blogging as a way for small business to keep customers briefed on schedules and daily updates. I see the day when most small businesses have one. I imagine plumbers with blogs that shows opens spots on daily schedules where potential customers can view the blog and plug into the spot.
    Instant website, no HTML necessary.
    Email will be less relevant.
    Big business is already seeing the possibilities.
    Check out imediaconnection today and how Nike is pushing the brand via blog.
    Mike