Seven Unscientific, Uninformed and Somewhat Pessimistic Predictions for 2010

Okay, I’ll be honest – I have a bad feeling about 2010. I don’t know why, it’s just a grim sense of melancholy, unease and fatalism that’s permeating my entire being, and not just because I was only able to sing the short version of The Final Countdown when we last played Rock Band. Maybe it’s an irrational sense of foreboding, although it’s more like the boding has snuck up behind me and is about to steal my wallet.

Anyway, I could keep whining, and to be frank I probably will. But for now I’ll channel the bad juju into a set of predictions for the emerging year. I have no authority to do this – I don’t have the spirit of prophecy, I haven’t invented time travel, I haven’t developed psychic powers after being bitten by a radioactive Uri Geller, but what the heck:

Social networking will lead to election upsets – Now people have discovered that Facebook can be used to hammer Simon Cowell, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, flash mobs and blogs will be used mercilessly in the forthcoming election. This isn’t really anything new, certainly not globally, but there’ll be a higher visibility to the whole thing as they start to clobber a generation of policy makers and power brokers who don’t quite understand the Internet and how the world’s changed. It’s this divide that leads to…

More content wars
– The Conservative party in the UK seem to be in bed with Rupert Murdoch and News International, which will have a major impact on issues such as the licence fee and the future of the BBC. Part of the context for this is how we should approach online content; for instance, the BBC’s news website is free to access, while Murdoch’s gang want to be able to charge for content. This has a knock-on effect, of course, mess with the BBC’s funding and it’s goodbye Merlin, hello reduced episodes of Doctor Who, and all this is before we get into wider issues of downloading music, DRM and the rest – emerging technologies will also continue to impact this (has there been much of a market for pirated books and will there be now eBooks become more popular? And will rising comic book prices added to new tech such as the Skiff reader see monthly floppies getting downloaded more often?). Of course, the debate over intellectual property can’t be divorced from issues such as who controls the news, and so, you’ve guessed it…

We’ll be told to be scared of more things – At a guess, Yemen, Iran, South America, mini-skirts in Doctor Who, the Internet, the successor to Swine Flu and the NHS. The irony will be…

We’ll be blindsided by things we should be expecting by now
– For example, climate change + the United Kingdom = total chaos for the last week. See also more faffing around like at the Copenhagen summit. Of course, we can’t see everything coming, so…

Something completely insane will happen – I’m not suggesting that aliens will come flying out of the Norway Spiral (yes, it’s meant to have been the result of a missile test, but it looks like aliens should come flying out of it), but someone’s going to do something crazy because they think aliens are coming. Or because they believe they’re the reincarnation of Alexander the Great. Bring on the craziness! The flipside of this is that…

Something very bad will happen as the result of a reality TV show – Sooner or later, we’re gonna reap what we sow. Which means we all need to…

Nut up or shut up – Obama’s got to sort out US healthcare. Those of us over 18 in the UK need to vote, even if its only to keep some very bad people out of office. And maybe, on a way more positive note, 2010 is a good time to look at those old dreams we all have gathering dust in a cupboard, all the things we wanted to see and experience but never got round to it. They’re still there, subconsciously bugging us to do something about them, I guess, and my friend Sudge is right, "I’m still here and not one of the ambitions I’ve ever had in my life is dead unless I say it is." The world’s a big, scary, insane sort of a place, and I’m not gonna lie, it freaks me out sometimes. But there is still hope, there are still dreams and ambitions and opportunities, and maybe 2010 will be, wherever possible, what we make of it. If there’s an antidote to that low-level dread I talked about earlier, that’s it. It’s a cliche, but it’s true – we’re in this together. Let’s try and make something good out of the next twelve months…

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