Viewpoint

Happy Google Year!

By Terry Calhoun

Welcome to the Year of the Google. In 2007, Google will become the most frequently visited Web site on the Internet. In November of 2006, it passed Yahoo, briefly. Microsoft, of course, with required downloads of software upgrades, is the other major player. But Google, with the help of its new purchase, YouTube, will end Yahoo’s 10-year ride on the top of the worldwide visits charts sometime in 2007.

What else will excite us in 2007, or was exciting about 2006? I’ve been reading a wide range of retrospectives and prospectives and will share a little bit about each here, with linkage so that you can go through and read more of what you find most interesting.

No More Big Releases?

Late last year, Gartner Inc. predicted that Vista would be the last big release of a new Windows operating system by Microsoft. "The next generation of operating environments will be more modular and will be updated incrementally," the research firm said in a forecast for 2007. "The era of monolithic deployments of software releases is nearing an end. Microsoft will be a visible player in this movement, and the result will be more flexible updates to Windows and a new focus on quality overall."

My response: Who would want to go through all that again? And that’s from Microsoft’s perspective, not the campus one. We’ve now got to deal with students who will get some version of Vista on their new Christmas present, bring it to campus, and complain that the campus machines don’t use Vista yet. Same thing after Christmas 2007: Why aren’t the machines in the lab using Vista yet?

What Will the RIAA Come Up With Next?

The record industry's dubious prosecutions continue, as the major players file suit against several unlikely defendants, including a 3-year-old child, a whippet in Cincinnati, George Gordon Lord Byron (1788-1824), minor Harry Potter character Eloise Midgen, and "the smell of fresh waffles on a Sunday morning." Most defendants settle out of court, but the smell of waffles vows to fight the charges.

The above is nonsensical, of course, but it d'es highlight the fact that whatever the current state of the battle is – Napster, Ruckus, whatever – the underlying structural tension about intellectual property rights is still there. Only the surface is resolved, and that will crack soon enough.

MySpace Spaces Out

“MySpace splinters as teens head for niche sites. New services that control profiles across multiple social networking sites begin to take off.”

Expect more stories about MySpace exposes. The following is a good example. But it’s mainstream now. Take a look below, to “More Risky Behavior” and check out some of the places those kids are splintering off to!

Personal D'esn’t Mean Private, Necessarily

Maybe it will influence some students’ behavior, one or two are cited in the article, but the notion that something that feels private in cyberspace, really isn’t, has yet to soak into most young people’s heads.

Granted, there is a huge pleasure in putting yourself all out there on a blog or your MySpace site that is very seductive. But all you have to do is think about the ways your life is compartmentalized and realize that there are drawbacks. That is, unless you have yet to reach your 25 th birthday and maybe your life is only becoming compartmentalized beyond the basics of “What my parents know” and “What my parents don’t know.”

More Risky Behavior by Students

We can always count on this, eh? Even as parents and school administrators warn them about the consequences of places like MySpace, students turn to alternatives like Stickam.com, which offer unmoderated, unfiltered, live broadcasts from webcams.

As one researcher says, “It’s a ‘race to the bottom’ in terms of offering young people a chance to do what they want.”

The Rapprochement of the Physical with the Virtual

But it’s not all bad, maybe.

After the plethora of stories about smashed windows, vases, elbows, and Wii controllers, comes the stories of young people addicted to the physical movement that is how you can choose to engage the games, especially the tennis game.

Now, throw “Dance, Dance, Revolution” in the mix.

Put them together – and throw in the concept of “spinning classes” from the gym, and you have the intriguing concept of video games merging with personal exercise technology that might counteract the current “weakling” stage of modern young people. We may not see the products in 2007, but we will certainly hear the ideas and read the stories.

The downside: liability issues. When you start making claims about improving health, etc., then your lawyers get antsy.

More Apples In the Mix

Even here at SCUP where, except for one or two of the more technical adept staffers, everyone has been PC for a decade, six of the last seven laptop replacements in our cycle went from PC to Apple.

Whether it’s the iPod “halo” effect, the dual operating systems potential, or the “cool” factor, it seems that IT staffers’ lives are going to continue to have to deal with multiple operating systems and platforms.

Difficult Managers

One thing I can guarantee: you will find at least one person in your work life in 2007 who, more than a little, resembles “Stanley,” the clueless manager in this story.

If only there was some way they could be kept away from popular stories about IT, eh?

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