Strong opinions, weakly held

Predictions for 2007

To remind readers from last year, I’m constraining my predictions to areas where I have some expertise (meaning no political or current events predictions), and avoiding areas where any predictions would be completely speculative, like future product releases from Apple.

I expect that in 2007 we’ll continue to be blown away by the progress we make in getting Web applications to work more like desktop applications. I think that more than seeing the state of the art advance in terms of what can be done with JavaScript, we’ll see use of these techniques become significantly more widespread. You can already do most of the things you can do in a desktop application in a Web application, or at least companies like Google can. We’ll see knowledge of these techniques spread to a much wider group of developers, thanks in large part to further integration of the popular AJAX libraries into Web development platforms. Ruby on Rails already provides many shortcuts that make adding AJAX features to your applications, we’ll see similar progress for other frameworks as well. (I think that when you perform a Web search for “jstl ajax” this time next year, the results will be more interesting.)

2006 was a big year for spammers. Prior to 2006, spam filters were winning the fight, but spammers made huge gains last year thanks to image spam, abuse of botnets, and other factors. I think that spam filters will claw their way back in 2007. The only spam filter that works really well for me right now is the one in Gmail, but I think that other spam fighters will figure things out this year as well. Either that, or everyone will just migrate to Gmail.

Google will continue to do things that give people reservations about trusting them. Google keeps getting bigger and bigger and assimilating more and more of our data, mainly because their services are just that useful. I am now reaching the tipping point where I intentionally avoid using some Google services based on a vague fear of relying too much on Google. You can pry Gmail from my cold dead fingers, but everything else is negotiable. Google Reader is great, but I don’t want to give Google a list of all of the blogs I read. I’ve quit using Google exclusively for Web search. Given what I’m reading on other blogs, I think that this is a trend we’ll see growing in the next year. People will continue to increase their reliance on Google, but more of them will come to resent that reliance as well.

Web advertising will become even more obnoxious. In the past couple of weeks, I finally gave in and installed a Flash blocking extension for Firefox, and even with it, ads are still out of control. Sites run Flash-based popups, click-trapping transparent Flash movies that take up most of the browser window, and tooltip-based ads that make moving your mouse across a browser window feel like crossing a mine field. For awhile it looked like context-keyed text ads from Google, Yahoo, and others would take over from the more intrusive forms of advertising, but obnoxiousness is still on the rise.

I have a couple of hopeful predictions as well. I’d like this stuff to happen, but I haven’t seen a lot of evidence that it actually will:

I’d hope to see more progress in decentralized communication among weblogs, and less progress toward people moving into centralized weblog services. TypePad, Vox, Blogger, and other services are great, but I’d like to be able to exchanging information with other weblogs without having to be on the same network they are. Trackback and pingback seem to be on the way toward death due to spam issues. OpenID is great and seems to be on a path toward growing like gangbusters. Maybe OpenID could save trackback? There have to be other ways to enable people with independent weblogs to communicate among one another the way Vox users can. I’d love to see progress made on this front in 2007.

I’d also like to see more progress on the copyright and DRM front. Almost everything the copyright industries are pushing right now is broken and unsustainable. I’d love to see more risk taking from them, and less reliance on abusing customers via the legal system. I’d also love to see more customers refuse to give their money to an industry that regards them first as potential criminals. There’s very little evidence that we’ll see these leopards change their spots.


  1. Does anyone else feel that Gmail’s spam filters aren’t very good? I’ve read here and elsewhere how good they are, but a quick scan of one of my throw-away gmail accounts shows 15 spam in the first 50 messages, and thats not including all the image spam that are caught by a custom filter that I had to write myself. I’d say about 30-50% of my inbox is spam.

    I’ve got 2400 spam messages in my Spam folder, so clearly some filtering is going on.

    Am I missing something here? Is there a “make spam filtering work” option that I’m missing?

    As a side note, on my corporate address we use SpamAssassin and after a bit of tweaking with the SARE rulesets we’re averaging below 4% spam without any false positives, and the volume of email is probably 10 times higher than the Gmail account.

  2. You need to install AdBlock Plus (http://adblockplus.org/en/) or if you prefer the central source: https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/1865/

    You should also install the FilterSet.G updater: https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/1136/

    If you use Yahoo Messenger, make sure you read: http://adblockplus.org/en/npYState

    I love ADP, it really helps a lot.

  3. In my experience, “bounced” spam messages have REALLY REALLY picked up lately. It’s getting to the point where bounced spam in my INBOX outnumber real messages 10 to 1! It used to be the server filter + gmail filter worked pretty good, now that combo is pretty much worthless. I see 2007 as the year that users will start fighting back with white lists and/or challenge and responses systems for their personal and work e-mails. You’ll have to ask for permission before you can send and e-mail. In fact, I’ve considered changing my web host/e-mail provider just to get this feature!

    I agree that AdBlockPlus is a must!

    I could agree more about AJAX!

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