Ah, mid- to late December. It must be time for the annual deluge of predictions from pundits large and small. I'm guilty of this (and yes, I plan on having a set of 2007 predictions, too), but that doesn't mean I don't have to call shenanigans on predictions that simply are too ridiculous to ignore.
Gartner released its latest predictions, one of which bears close scrutiny:
Blogging and community contributors will peak in the first half of 2007. Given the trend in the average life span of a blogger and the current growth rate of blogs, there are already more than 200 million ex-bloggers. Consequently, the peak number of bloggers will be around 100 million at some point in the first half of 2007.
This prediction is going to go into the Hall of Fame right next to such luminescent proclamations as (nod to Wikipedia):
- "There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." -- Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC), maker of big business mainframe computers, arguing against the PC in 1977.
- "Dear Mr. President: The canal system of this country is being threatened by a new form of transportation known as 'railroads' ... As you may well know, Mr. President, 'railroad' carriages are pulled at the enormous speed of 15 miles per hour by 'engines' which, in addition to endangering life and limb of passengers, roar and snort their way through the countryside, setting fire to crops, scaring the livestock and frightening women and children. The Almighty certainly never intended that people should travel at such breakneck speed." -- Martin Van Buren, Governor of New York, 1830
- "Everyone acquainted with the subject will recognize it as a conspicuous failure." -- Henry Morton, president of the Stevens Institute of Technology, on Edison's light bulb, 1880.
- "While theoretically and technically television may be feasible, commercially and financially it is an impossibility, a development of which we need waste little time dreaming." -- Lee DeForest, American radio pioneer and inventor of the vacuum tube, 1926.
- "The world potential market for copying machines is 5000 at most." -- IBM, to the eventual founders of Xerox, saying the photocopier had no market large enough to justify production, 1959.
- "It's a great invention but who would want to use it anyway?" -- Rutherford B. Hayes, U.S. President, after a demonstration of Alexander Bell's telephone, 1876.
- "That the automobile has practically reached the limit of its development is suggested by the fact that during the past year no improvements of a radical nature have been introduced." -- Scientific American, Jan. 2 edition, 1909.
Honestly, doesn't Gartner have an editor with a little sense for historical context? It wasn't that long ago that cameras would never become a standard in cell phones. Or that the average PC would never have need for more than a few gigs of storage. Or that instant messaging would never be an enterprise-worthy utility? Or that DVD players would never replace the VCR. Or that iPod growth wasn't sustainable beyond a few million units? And on, and on, and on...
For this prediction to be close to believable, we would have to assume that emerging industrial powerhouses like China and India were saturated. We would also need to assume that dozens of other developing nations will never have interest in social media. We would also need to assume that the utility of blogging was di minimis.
My prediction for 2007...Gartner will dramatically re-assess its understanding of blogging and social media (0.99 probability).
Note: At the time of this writing I, and/or funds I maintain discretionary control over, did not maintain a position (long or short) in IT. We may, at times, carry derivative options on underlying positions as a hedge.