A year plus into this blog, and I find myself wondering just what technologies people, not just geeks, will be embracing in the years to come.  SO much has changed in just one year, the world has been altered radically in the last ten technology-wise, and many cultural shifts have gone unnoticed (remember when games were for geeks not everyone?  That was what, 2 years ago?).

So I asked myself what technologies out there people must embrace or fall behind, will likely embrace, and may embrace in a large-but-not-widescale way.  In short, what are people definitely and likely going to be using five years from now.

So here's my take

Social Networking – Few people will not use some form of social network.  Integrated into culture and into technology, most people will be using some form of Facebook, MySpace, etc. – and may not really have any choice as so many others will be.

Business Networking – rules the roost, but there are other smaller and more specialized sites, and with the job market changing towards networking, Business social networking is going to become even more widespread, and frankly indespensible for most careers and careerists. 

Presence Methods/Distributed Chat – Twitter in some form (even Twitter-esque applications) is here to stay.  Such systems let you broadcast presence and status, have chats, or both.  Between Twitter, Twitter-would-be's, text-messaging, and more, people who aren't engaged in some low-level short-message dialogue now and then will be increasingly rare.  These methods of communication will become more and more important since, though small, they are rapid, easy to make, and messages add up.

MMOG's – Between free sites, pay MMORPGS, and expanding social gaming, I predict in the near future a lot of people will have a favorite social/MMO game or two they play (I know I, who avoid the big MMOs, do).  Games will evolve to service more and more interests.  Talking about what social/MMO games people play will become part of normal conversation.  Fantasy Sports games will get even bigger.  Very simply, when you mix entertainment and human connection, people like that.

Gaming Machines – Many people will own some kind of gaming machines, which in many cases are becoming entertainment/media/communications centers.  The increase of gamers and the increase of software options will see to that.  I also can see gaming machines becoming rebranded over the years to cover their many functions.

Specialized Social Networks – A good amount of people will take to specialist social networks like DeviantArt, etc. as they expand offerings and social networking becomes more prominent.  Specialized networks (DeviantArt, Crunchyroll, etc.) can offer a level of focus and detail others can't.

Smart Phones – Phones are getting more and more powerful, and I think there will be an increased usage of them.  They won't be dominant or near-dominant for another ten years – and frankly not everyone needs their power – but they will keep increasing in use.

Netbooks – I think Netbooks compliment phones by providing more portable computing power with the footprint needed for a good monitor and keyboard.  They will get much more usage in the years to come, but I don't expect dominance as the Laptop/Netbook/Game Machine/Phone continumn will probably be muddled.

Career-wise, you'll notice I'm seeing the Internet being the dominant element – and social being the dominant element of the internet.  I think social networking technologies are a good bet in the short and long term, as is being a basic hardware provider for such companies (Cisco, etc.).  Gaming is going to be a good bet, but be very erratic and confused in this economy and over identity for two to five years.  I do think Phones and computers are a DEFINITE good bet, but am a bit fuzzy on how they'll evolve.

So there's my predictions.  Any thoughts?

– Steven Savage