<Image http://www.flickr.com/photos/frippy/1419020309/ by Frippy>
This is hardly a marvel of prophecy, but bear with me…
The signs are that this year will be one marked by something of a backlash against social media/ web 2.0/ any internet stuff. I don't mean from the traditional media, who've always been suspicious, but from people who know what they're talking about and have been advocates. In other words, increasingly 'us lot' will be declaring that this stuff is peripheral, uncool, over- rated, etc.
I think this will often been focused on a particular technology, and Twitter will be the main candidate this year. I've already seen several people I know abandon it. But increasingly it reflects a disappointment that technology hasn't delivered on its promises, and that as it becomes incorporated into everyday life it begins to look like all the stuff it was meant to replace. Hey, e-mail was revolutionary once. This cycle of attitudes towards technology is neatly captured in the Gartner Hype cycle, which, while not founded in deep research, captures instinctively what many of us feel about technology.
The other thing to bear in mind is that as technology matures, so does the criticism that goes along with it. This moves from the tabloid 'it's evil' attitude to a more reasoned approach. I disagree with a lot of what Lanier says in You Are Not A Gadget (that's another post), but I agree when he says technology criticism should not be left to Luddites (and neither should technology engagement be left to the evangelists). So part of what we will see growing this year is smart people bringing their intellectual capacity to bear on their experience with technology.
I would caution though that many of us who are prone to technology enthusiasm are also guilty of excessive criticism (I include myself in this). Maybe it's a personality thing for early adopters. My point is we should be wary of going to extremes. To return to my earlier example, the fact that Twitter won't be the tool that brings down totalitarian regimes, or that you found yourself using it too much, or that it is often trivial does not mean it is therefore useless. I think we should avoid these kind of binary distinctions: it's a revolutionary force or it's pointless. I know that, for instance, my use of Twitter has changed from a compulsion to tweet at all times, to a much more regulated, measured use. I'll go days without using it, but on other days will dip in continuously and find it entertaining, useful, engaging. And that's the same for all of it – we tend to over-indulge and then find their real value as they settle into our daily lives.
I think a healthy caution has crept into our reaction to technology now: Buzz, Ping, Wave, Quora – all of these have been met with an appropriate questioning attitude and not a blind acceptance of the next big thing. But we should also not become adverse to what can be done using tools with a little imagination – ds106 radio is a recent example of this. The technology isn't particularly complex (well, it would be beyond me, but for someone like Grant it's probably not too complex), but when you make it easy enough and get the right mix of people together, magic happens.
So I'm starting the backlash against the backlash early – YouTube, Flickr, Wikipedia, Twitter – these things are amazing. They're just not as amazing as we first thought, or rather, we're just beginning to find the ways in which they will be amazing.