2005 is almost over, but looking ahead remains my passion. Here are a few more anticipations and predictions that should be added to my original Web Predictions for 2006 which I wrote over a week ago.
Photo credit: Stefano Carboni
Here are ten more disruptive and powerful changes that from my unique point of view, I see coming your way, whether you like it or not.
I think there are still more key innovations and new technology changes that I am not yet covering here, but between my previous post and this, you can really get a broad and comprehensive idea of which are the web and the emerging new media technologies to master and watch in the coming months.
Pay close attention because to these as they are going to impact many established assumptions while bringing disruption and radical changes to existing markets and their existing leaders.
Self-publishing, personal publishing, and small content management systems will keep gaining further interest and market. Existing systems will see a great deal of innovation with blogs publishing systems integrating audio and video publishing, social networking facilities, output to multiple formats and media, structured blogging, better spam protection and more.
Some blogs and other small independent news sites will gain further momentum as alternative credible first-hand source for information in an ever-increasing number of fields: from business to social activism, blogs will play an increasingly important role as vehicles of information not directly influenced by major media and corporate world interests.
Contextual, text-based ads will continue thrive as technology and ad distributors will expand and refine ways and methods that guarantee quality matching of content and ads as well as more transparency and protection against click fraud attempts. More companies will emerge in this space, as opportunities exist for "vertical" distributors that target only very specific market sectors by acting as middlemen between small and medium blogs/sites and small-to-large advertisers in the same market sector. While AdSense, and in a much lesser way YPN, can provide a very broad array of advertisers in most any market category, the growth of many highly-focused sites and blogs does offer, in my personal view, opportunity to smaller ad clearinghouses to offer a better service and ROI to both independent publishers and advertisers.
I stay put that well-crafted, highly accessible informative ads-only channels on specific themes and products will be an option to seriously explore. There are many variants I can see to this approach and they all look to me much more promising and fruitful than traditional online advertising approaches.
Metrics will play an increasingly important role in any online business, while providing also a mean to establish greater credibility and authority for anyone having the numbers to do so. By metrics I refer to the numerical indicators that allow both a publisher and its audiences to judge and measure the reach, credibility, authority and possible business value of a specific web site.
I expect to see soon a crop of new services offering "certified" traffic display on your site in a much more "transparent" and verifiable approach than what you can see around all sites today. Google itself could provide such service soon, while Yahoo and MSN can't really wait that much longer to start leveraging this extremely valuable information gathering loop.
Just like you have a link for the "about" and "contact" pages so there should always be one for "circulation" reporting at least all of the main traffic stats.
Open online image archives, stock photo libraries, new services and tools that will allow the easy uploading and sharing of your digital image collections will keep launching.
Those charging fees for them must have truly compelling advantages as the free alternative options are just too many to be ignored. The business models around such many image clearinghouses, will be in charging micropayments for licensing and re-use, as well as in relevant contextual advertising and sponsorships.
Prices for finding quality images for your advertising or marketing campaign will keep dropping drastically.
Traditional photo agencies, especially small to medium-sized ones should deeply review their business models unless they operate in truly niche areas.
Music listening online is finding a wide array of outlets and innovative ways to distribute itself, so much so, that is indeed difficult to predict what will happen or prevail in this space.
What appears to be certain is that there will be more and more ways to listen to good music in ways that are not your traditional going to a CD store, buying a music CD and listening to it. Online music stations offer free high-quality music selections with no ads. New music engines like Pandora, Mercora or lastFM offer new and extremely cost-effective ways to not only listen to the music you like but also to discover new music of your preferred genre that you would have never heard of otherwise.
Music will flow and it will find, especially with the huge increase in independent bands and groups vying for some attention, more and more authors willing to let their music be shared and distributed by their fans. This in turn will place major pressure on traditional bands and recording labels as the rip-off CD distribution scheme will begin to rapidly crumble.
After having been ripped off early with the rootkit technology for which Sony has also lost much of its credibility, I have not bought a CD now for over a year. The ways in which I now access and listen to music include many of the above solutions along side a huge collections of my own CDs which I have either re-downloaded as .mp3 or converted from my own originals.
If 2005 wasn't the year of social bookmarking I don't know which one it will be. Nonetheless, I am sure that you will see still lots of growth in this area as social bookmarking and folksonomies appears to offer benefit to all involved. With the deluge of new services, tools and news to follow, it is only by enabling a greater number of individuals to actively participate in the filtering process that we can achieve some true insight and ability to access the information that is truly relevant to us.
New broadband connection protocols promise huge leaps forward in the amount of bandwidth that can be delivered and in the efficiency of the delivery technology adopted.
Wired or wireless a much greater number of people will be soon connecting at speeds allowing seamless viewing of audio and video content at good quality levels, multi-party video conferencing and also great Internet connectivity while on the move.
This is where the future of television broadcasting as we know it is. It may not happen in 2006, but, notwithstanding all the efforts that will be made, to stop, slow-down or silence this phenomenal alternative to traditional on-air broadcasting, this is the wave of the future I would like to chronicle. There are already over twenty different software tools, mostly created in China, that allow free P2P re-distribution of any television station out there: satellite, cable, encrypted, it doesn't matter. If you can see it you can re-distribute it via the Internet to an infinite number of users.
Contrary to what big media and traditional television channels would have you believe, this is a godsend for both those established players as well as for the army of new small independent would-be TV stations out there.
Screencasting, podcasting and videoblogging: The three casting mosqueteers are going to get some more ink and attention for their true, major potential as learning enablers in a number of different scenarios.
Nonetheless they may appear as aliens from outer space to traditional teachers and academics, podcasting and videocasting do offer an amazing array of opportunities for enhanced learning and for bringing valuable knowledge where a classroom is missing.
Hotter than many of the ones above will be further proliferation of online collaboration, web conferencing and live presentation tools of all kinds. Free, low-, medium- and highly-priced products will satisfy many of the fast increasing user demands.
But there is still lots of progress to be made in the design and operation of these tools. In fact, the greatest forward strides will be made by those tools offering easy extension of existing applications and web services to enable the specific real-time collaboration facilities required.
In 2006 (and for that matter already now) anyone will be able to afford to adopt a conferencing tool that allows unlimited meetings, integrates VoIP, text chat, co-browsing, PowerPoint presentation delivery and maybe video and recording too, for less than $50/month (for a group of 5 people). And that's quite an achievement I think.
Make sure you also read:
New Media Predictions 2006: What Will The Web Future Bring?