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My Four Foundations for 2013

Besides the Technology Issue We All Know, What Should We Be Thinking About?

As the last productive week of the year nears its end, time to think about what was important this year and what will be important next year. The first winter storm of the season is blowing into my northern Illinois location as I contemplate things, reminding me that I should have bought a snow shovel yesterday and that it's unlikely I'll be traveling more than a few feet from home today.

And let's dispense with thinking about the current year. We all know what was important in our world, whether we're only now thinking about migrating to the cloud and wonder how easy and cheap it really is to spin up an instance or two, or realized with horror we may have to rework massive ideas and deployments with Win8 in mind.

So, onto 2013, and the things I'll be thinking about.

  1. End violence. I'm just a technology writer, and most everyone in our industry is so focused on features, deliverables, competitive challenges, etc. that some high-flown unreachable idea like ending violence is not in our job description. Whether you join or contribute to an organization, develop products with this end, or simply keep telling people that Newtown, Syria, drones, and all the other soul-crushing violence must end, I hope you (and I) can do something to bring it down a few notches.

  2. Fight for privacy. Too many people in our industry have been focused for too long in harvesting personal information for profitable use - I'm looking at you Google - seemingly unaware that this mindless pursuit is doing all of the donkey work for governments worldwide who would love to know everything you're doing at all times. I was just in London, and did my brave part by routinely hoisting the middle finger to the ubiquitous cams there. As I trudged around, I felt as if I was in a remake of Pink Floyd's "The Wall."

  3. Green up! I had to (gasp) print something out while working at a big software company in Palo Alto a few years ago, and was chastised by the leader of the company's Green Team for my moral lapse. I asked her where she and her family were vacationing that year. "Why, Dublin, Ireland. Thanks for asking!" She didn't appreciate my point that my little print job was probably not as perfidious as the contrails from the 747s they'd be taking. That said, it's time we start looking at datacenters, devices, processes, and the things we create in a more greenish light. I make the economic argument - the developing world uses 3-5% the per-capita power of the developed world. How can we ever achieve global economic growth and end poverty unless we can achieve moderate lifestyles with at least a magnitude more efficiency than today?

  4. Predictive power. I've been talking to people all over the world over the past three weeks about the research I've been conducting for the past two years. A topic that repeatedly emerges is whether this stuff has any predictive power. Can we forecast economic growth, investment growth, or other concrete measures with it? If my team and I add a green element to it, will it carry any predictive power as to ROI for green investments, etc. Heck, I don't know. Nobody expected the Spanish Inquisition, and only a few predicted the timing of the economic meltdown in 2008. Humans are pretty irrational, and it's therefore pretty hard to predict their behavior, unless you're at a big sporting event or inside a casino. This will be my main braincrunch of the year. Paraphrasing the Donald Sutherland character from Kelly's Heroes, "the data's pretty, but can it fight?"

That's it. No cutesy "13 for '13" list for me. There's enough going on here to keep me busy and mildly insane for the entire year. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

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