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Oh goody, they are here. Every magazine, newspaper, and most of the online publications known to man are putting together their “2008 year in review” and their “2009 prediction” editions. What a fucking waste of human energy.
This has been one of my pet peeves for 20+ years. For a while I managed to ignore them completely. At some point I started getting asked for my predictions and succumbed to my ego for a few years and participated in the prediction folly. At some point I realized that there was zero correlation between my predictions and reality and that by participating, I was merely helping perpetuate this silliness.
The energy that goes into the “year in review” and “prediction” stuff seems to be significantly greater in “extreme” (both good and bad) times. The prognostications become stronger and bolder. The analysis by hindsight intensifies. I don’t think this benefits anyone.
Over dinner recently, I was having a discussion with a friend. The conversation took place in a very full and busy restaurant. At some point the discussion turned to the sentiment throughout the United States right now and how the level of anxiety, negativity, pessimism, depression, and downright panic seemed at an extremely high level and appeared disconnected from general reality. We talked about what “general reality” meant for a little while – both “our realities” (which are different) as well as our view of the “actual general reality in the United States.”
As we rolled through some of the discussion, I made the offhand comment that I thought much of the sentiment that existed started near the end of the summer a few weeks before the DNC. As I thought about it more, it made sense. For the 90 days prior to the election, all we heard and read was “things suck in America.” Oil hit $135 / barrel and was going to go to $200 / barrel (it’s $35 / barrel today.) Gas was going to be $10 / gallon (it’s under $2 / gallon in Colorado today.)
I was on vacation in England the week Lehman went bankrupt, AIG melted down, and Merrill Lynch got bought by Bank of America. Amy and I rarely watch TV on vacation (other than movies) but since CNBC’s Closing Bell was on about the time we were crawling into bed, we watched it as though it was a sporting event. Over the course of the week, we must have seen 100 different people predict 500 different things. 485 of them were wrong. Oh – and I read Taleb’s The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable during this week and just could stop bursting out with cynical laughter each evening. Over the 90 days we heard over and over again how much America sucked. How many problems we had. How everything was totally screwed up.
Of course, the financial markets have been a disaster in Q3 and Q4. The housing bubble has finally officially exploded (doesn’t explode sounds more dramatic than burst.) Unemployment is rising. Credit is frozen. Retail sales are massively off this Christmas. All companies except Walmart are having a tough Q4. Blah blah blah. And now come the 2009 predictions.
My prediction for 2009 – the vast majority of the 2009 predictions will be wrong. Ignore them. Find a Dharma that fits your Karma (more on that when I review Strategic Intuition: The Creative Spark in Human Achievement (Columbia Business School) by Bill Duggan, which I read last night.) You get a finite number of years on this planet – make the most of all of them, no matter what is going on around you.
Matt McAdams has a clever blog up titled Up next: telesoftware! He discusses the rise of our favorite new buzzword (hint: it’s "Cloud Computing") and spends some time harkening back to its origin (hint: it’s the "Application Service Provider.")
I was around at the birth of the ASP as the co-chairman of one of the early ASPs (Interliant) which started out life in 1996 as a "web hosting company" (how passe) and evolved in 1997 into an Application Service Provider. I clearly remember the tech media latching onto the ASP label at the end of the 1990′s right alongside prefixing everything with a lowercase e and postfixing everything with ".com".
The cynics were simple minded – they simply referred to the ASPs as the return of mainframe – or even better – timesharing. Interliant enjoyed rapid growth and a brief period of what looked like success before being decimated during the collapse of the Internet bubble.
Platform-as-a-Service has emerged suddenly with a vengeance. IBM System/370 anyone? The S/370 had this nifty thing called "virtual memory", which evolved into VM, which lives on today as the great new "virtualization" trend.
Telesoftware? Nah – that sounds too much like Telemedicine (what ever happened to that one?) I think we are going to be talking about "planetary computing" once "cloud computing" runs its course since "Sun computing" has already come and mostly gone.
I have seen my lifetime supply of slides like the following:
My good friend Bruce Wyman – the Director of Technology at the Denver Art Museum – has a thoughtful post up this morning titled Simplification of Things, Part 1 of Some. In it, he shows us a better way to communicate what this slide doesn’t.
I have a handful of chronic grammar problems. I received the following email yesterday:
You seem like an intelligent guy. But you insist on referring to your friends as, "that." If you’re not just trying to fit in by using bad grammar (as everyone else seems to do), show everyone how smart you really are.
"To all my friends that are . . . ."
"Since they are the ones that . . . ."
"(Name) that is . . . ."
How about using the word, "who" instead of "that" when you refer to people? "My friend who will be . . . ." "To all my friends who are . . . ." "Since they are the ones who . . . ."
To which I responded:
I have 12 grammar problems. Then / than, who / whom, accept / except, …., and that / who! Thanks for calling me out on it – I’ll try harder but given that I’m 42 and can’t seem to get my brain wired for these few things, I’m probably screwed for life.
Thanks oh vigilant grammarians for keeping me on my toes.
While I’m usually amused by the copyright gaffes I see, I laughed out loud when I saw that Google News was still Copyright 2007 (thanks to dschwartz for the tip.)
Dear Mr. Google: It’s almost February 2008. Oh – and make the date a variable!
I guess I should be nice since I’m sure some of the companies I’ve funded haven’t fixed (or variable-ized) the copyright dates on their site.