End of the Year!

Ah yes its that time of year again, when the media outlets are full of reviews of the year and so on, and suddenly across the twitter comes McBoof’s 2011 predictions and yes its after Christmas now and it is time for some sort of whats up blog post. More about the state of my thinking as we get to 2011 rather than predictions perhaps.

I am also going to predict that I will write more blog posts next year; this year has been pretty sparse, and I should do better. I would have written more in the last month but I have been writing code instead, for reasons that will be the subject of a future blog post. I think it is pretty unlikely I am going to get another total NDA job again, far more likely back to open source and open communities. Its more fun when you can talk about what you are doing.

The other thing I an predict is that I will be doing some different and interesting things next year. I am no longer working on the big now-cancelled secret project, so I am looking for interesting opportunities, so get in touch and lets work together on something!

Bubbling Up

  1. Mobile

    A bit obvious this one but mobile internet access which is about 3.5% of the total at the moment should reach over 10% by the end of the year and continue to rise. Arguably if you include netbooks as mobile this figure was probably reached this year and we may hit 20% by the end of 2011. What effect is this going to have? First development is going to be mobile first, web after, in terms of compatibility, testing and progressive enhancement. Second the obsession with apps will continue for a while, but the mobile web will continue to forge ahead in its stealth mode and will prove more successful long term. The big VC obsession with local (aka Groupon) will continue, although oddly people are using the web to globalize, and in countries like the UK much of what is local is disappearing businesses unless they have a much wider reach. Mobile is about people not places largely.

  2. IPv6

    IPv4 addresses will run out shortly and no one is very prepared. I had IPv6 at home a few years back but it is still pretty hard to get. Low end routers do not support it, and there are issues with many operating systems of one sort or another. Mobile phones are generally not ready. Amazon web services do not support IPv6 either. It is a mess. And by the end of the year it will be causing real growing pain for the internet, so expect to have to pay for the transition for no visible short term benefit. The long term benefit is the death of NAT and the rebirth of P2P in a way that will make the first Napster P2P boom look tiny.

  3. Touch

    The touchscreen is the interface of the future, but for next year Apple still has the upper hand to themselves. Some iPad competitors will come out but they will not get much traction as the software is so behind in terms of the touch interface for anything larger than a phone, and even there they are behind. Don’t expect real competition until 2012.

  4. Javascript

    Javascript is currently the programming language to watch. After a few missteps, node.js has finally made server side Javascript programming popular, while the new browser wars have made it faster than most dynamic languages in most benchmarks (yes, Chrome’s V8 Javascript is 25 times faster than PHP, and catching up with Java), only LuaJIT is faster (and has coroutines, sorely lacking from Javascript). Node.js (subject of a blog post soon) also adds an interesting server side asynchronous programming interface that makes writing high performance non threaded code pretty easy. This year we will see server side Javascript really take off, as the code reuse, and programmer reuse arguments become compelling, and also as APIs start to get real and offer server side scripting. Also people are going to notice all the software engineering efforts going into making Javascript usable in the large, with testing and so on and start using them.

  5. SSD

    In the last few years solid state drives appeared, and reduced transaction time to non valitile storae by about a factor of 1000 compared to hard drives, and then started to get cheap. It is not yet quite clear what the best way to abstract this transactional (but relatively small) store to programs is, or whether it will end up being bundled with hard drives or other such uses, or how much the costs will fall so that they replace hard drives for many purposes. Database performance should be dramatically improved on many workloads. I think there will be interesting new work in file systems to make use of this; also expect SSD to become available in cloud environments in 2011.

Sliding Down

  1. Centralization

    The internet is going through one of its centralization phases. Something like 25% of US page views are on Facebook now, as it has become the new AOL. Similar but more niche points of concentration exist around services such as Youtube. Facebook pages are replacing web pages for many, or substituting for them, and people are giving up control for this. Obviously it is self fulfilling as that is where the audience is now. However this sort of behaviour is very cyclical, and now the geeks are reacting against this, and a decantralizing infrastructure will start to be built again. Hey and once we get IPv6 we can do P2P without everything being dependent on NAT traversal hacks. Don’t expect too much in 2011, but the infrastructure will be being built, we have seen the risks of Delicious being closed.

  2. PHP

    So PHP6, the attempt to make PHP understand Unicode was scrapped in 2010, and server side Javascript is eating the easiness factor. It is not very popular on Github where much of the open source coding is going on now. While there are some existing code bases that will continue to be developed in PHP, it is pretty hard to imagine anyone starting a serious development project in it now.

  3. Hybrid tech-media companies

    Myspace is in continued decline, losing about half its traffic every year, and Yahoo! has not found out how to be either a successful tech or media company. Microsoft has lost $2bn in a year on its Online division that includes MSN. The tech-media hybrid just does not seem to do one or the other well. So big media has decided to pay the tax and let Apple be their tech department it seems, going iPad mad.

  4. Prices

    Downward price pressure is going to keep up in all areas of technology, from mobile phones to cloud services to storage. Service prices can only fall by commoditizing whole areas, particularly operations, and by building for integration, through better APIs. Any code without an API is legacy now. The recession is going to continue to emphasise cheap, and we will not be going back to “enterprise” pricing. Commoditize now!

  5. IE6

    Yay, it doesn’t matter any more, and it is hindering mobile, which matters much more. Both Google and Facebook started dropping support in 2010. The excellent YUI graded browser support predicts it will drop A grade support on the next update in Q1 2011, which will mean it will recommend not serving any CSS or Javascript to IE6. One to celebrate!

Have a happy new year!

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