Ann Arbor Area Business Monthly
Small Business and the Internet
Acronyms for the New Year
By Mike Gould
When Editor Jim told me the theme of this month's issue is "Looking Ahead", I blanched.
(I steamed a head of broccoli for 2 minutes until bright green; this preserves the vitamins and minerals without over-cooking. Serve with a lemon wedge.)
My mind drifted back two years to the disastrous article I penned at that time ("Looking Ahead", still visible on my web site, alas). You may recall that I enlisted the help of the Right Rear Reverend Sri Swami Tsunami Nextwavepaddlesloshwebber to peer into his software (Adobe Seer Sucker 2.3) and predict the coming year in Internet behaviors. You may also recall the following year I looked back and discovered he was about 55% correct, so I'm not going to revisit that particular font of wisdom (MS San-Scrit Bold Italic Smudged).
That said, I figured there was wiggle room for some vague reporting on probable trends, so here is a listing of what I think will be the big acronyms for next year. (An acronym is a word that is afraid of heights, so it spells itself in capital letters. I don't know why it thinks this will help.)
The Big 10 for 2007
Radio Frequency Identification. This is what busts you if you try to shoplift from Borders: a little tag pasted into a book will activate a door monitor if it doesn't get de-activated at the counter. The door jobbie is a radio transmitter that pings (GeekSpeak: sends a signal to) the tag in the book via radio waves. An antenna in the tag picks up the signal and replies "Bought" or "Stolen", setting off an alarm or passing you through. This technology will be more and more important this year because the US is starting to use it in passports. This is highly controversial as the software behind this is not terrifically secure (see RFID hacking link below).
Digital Rights Management. This is the means by which ownership of media files is protected or interfered with, depending on your point of view. DRM is what theoretically prevents you from sharing music you download from the Apple Music Store, destined for your iPod. The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) is currently at war with its customers, doing everything in their not inconsiderable power to turn back the hands of time, restricting fans from backing up the tunes and films they've bought with a variety of ill-conceived programs and prosecutions. The recording industry is facing technological change and fighting it, just as they've done with every new music technology since player piano rolls.
Voice Over Internet Protocol. This enables you to perform feats of telephony over the Internet instead of going through conventional telephone wires and companies. All the communications companies are dealing with this and will continue to do so throughout 2007 as the technology matures.
Big Lucious Utility - Really Awesome Youbetcha. This is touted to replace DVDs, just as DVDs were slated to replace CDs (which replaced vinyl, which replaced piano rolls). There are 2 competing formats out there, re-hashing the VHS-Beta wars: Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD. The next-generation optical media will be BD (Blu-ray Disk) or HD-DVD (High-Definition DVD). Or maybe both. Or maybe both will be supplanted by HVS (Holographic Video Storage) before either one of them gets out the door properly. BD is available but very expensive, and HD-DVD is just emerging from vapor. Maybe we'll see a clear winner in 2007. Maybe not. Personally, I'm sitting this one out.
Internet Protocol version 6. The Internet is running out of IP addresses. Every entity on the Internet has an IP address, looking something like 184.108.40.206. Permutations of this schema (four sets of three numbers) gives us something like 256 bazillion addresses. Unfortunately, the Internet has grown so large that we now need at least 256 bronto-bazillion addresses, which means your future IP address may look like this: 000:0000:0000:0000:0000:0000:0000:0000 That's a lot of ones and zeroes; the good news is that you as a user probably won't have to worry about it. It's the ISPs and router people who get to worry, and worry they will in 2007.
Really Simple Syndication. This is the software technology of the Blogosphere, the collective efforts of everyone with a tale to tell, an opinion to share, and bandwidth to fill. I couldn't come up with a funny acronymization for blog, so I'll just say that blog is short for Web Log, as in posting your $.02 online in a suitable fashion. In 2007, people will continue to blog. Deal with it.
Septic Product as Mail. Spam is now consuming 90% of the email pipeline, according to some estimates. Much has been written about this, by myself and other exasperated pundits. Congress has responded with a much-ridiculed and ineffective CanSpam Act. Anti-spam efforts will continue throughout the new year, but conditions will not improve. This may spell doom for us all. Repent!
Zymotic Utilization Nerd Effectuator. Microsoft's iPod knock-off, crippled by DRM, burdened by a me-too, late-to-the-party aura and general MS aroma. Could be the next big thing. Or not. I'm not sticking my neck out prophesizing this one. But they might get it right by rev.3.
Operating System Ten. Apple's Macintosh OS turns 10.5 (aka Leopard), this year. As Apple continues to churn out OS improvements at a brisk pace, this will probably be a winner for Mac fans. This will continue the trend of increasing the Mac presence everywhere except for the Enterprise, where they seem to actually like insecure, expensive-to-maintain, slow-to-update systems. (No, the Enterprise here is not what Capt. Picard flies around in, it is what we technical people refer to as Big Business. Picard's Enterprise is running OSXXXII.)
Very Irritating System Tyrannosaurus Administratus. Microsoft's finally-out-the-door, still sorta in beta, DRM-crippled effort will ooze into daylight, appearing behind the desktops of PCs across the land in 2007. Be skeptical, be very skeptical.
Note: not all the above are real acronyms; I fudged a few to shoehorn them in. Can you tell the fudgees? Happy New Year!
Mike Gould, is a part-time mouse wrangler for the U of M, runs the MondoDyne Web Works/Macintosh Consulting/Digital Photography mega-mall, is a member of Factotem.com, and welcomes comments addressed to email@example.com.