A new year (or: second verse, same as the first!)

Welcome, 2007!

The fresh scent of hope and useless prognostication is in theair. Journalists and bloggers all over the world are cranking outtop-ten lists of the best of 2006, and the most likely or mostoutlandish predictions for 2007. Will this be the year of the flyingcar? Secure MS-Windows? Duke Nuke'em Forever? One can hope!

Take me, for instance. I can't help but make some predictions for2007. Here they are, in a nutshell:

2007 won't be much different from 2006.

The iPod will remain the king of portable media players. GNU/Linuxwill fail to take the desktop by storm, but will continue to makesolid progress in the server room. The music industry will continue tocrank out mediocre pop and call it country or rock. The world willstill be preoccupied with senseless wars. Corporations will continuetheir quest to tie up information the same way they tied up the meansof production during the industrial revolution, and they will call itprogress, or (worse yet) innovation.

The most interesting, and most disturbing, events of 2007 will belegal, not technical. I predict the continued use of thelaw to attempt to close out the free flow of information.

To that end, the EU will allow software patents. "Oh sure," you might say. "They tried that before, and failed."

But listen:

When I was in college, we voted on a new recreation center. Wealready had a gym, and did not need a new rec center, and we did notwant the increased activity fees for an expensive building we wouldnot use. The rec centerinitiative failed. Then, the pro-rec center folks had the voteinvalidated. They then canvased the campus, and held anothervote. The initiative still failed. They then held a very quietvote. It was advertised only minimally, and there was not enough timeto let everyone opposed know about it. The rec center passed, but justbarely, even with their shenanigans.

It still passed, and the campus ended up with increased studentactivity fees and a debt on a rec center used by only a smallpercentage of the student body.

I attended college for an education, and I learned from thatevent. When a group of people want something, they will continue theirattempts until they achieve what they are after. If it means they mustgame the system, they will game the system.

So it will be in the EU, in 2007. If the big corporations can't getsoftware patents in the front door, they will try to get them inthrough the back door. And if the back door is also blocked, they willthrow it in through a broken window.

Okay, that metaphor went on a bit too long.

Patents will feature in another legal threat. In a Timeline/Microsoftpatent dispute, Timeline claimed Microsoft's customers, developerswho built products on MS SQL Server, might be responsible for royaltypayments for Timeline's patents. This is a huge break from traditionalpatent lawsuits, in which a patent holder receives payment from theproducer of a product, not from users or resellers of the product.

I predict we will hear more about end-user patent royalty payments inthe next year.

As 2007 won't be tremendously different from 2006, I expect tosee media companies try to push restrictive copyright legislation inthe USA and Australia under the guise of "copyright reform."

And so on.

That's it. No more predictions from me. I like to take the safe roadin future-gazing. I'm optimistic, though.

As with every year, this year will be as good as you make it. Idon't know about you, but I intend it to be a great one.


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