It’s the time of year when people start placing their bets on where we’re going next.  Developers, consultants, experts and users all like to weigh in with their predictions for 2009’s big developments, innovations and attempts for the coming year.

Yesterday, at Make Your Mark’s Social Media Afternoon, I was asked what my predictions were.  And I realized
1. I hadn’t thought about it much
2. I hadn’t blogged about it

So, here are my 2009 Predictions for the Social Web

Mashups

Mashups are great. I love them! But I think 2009 will see a more refined world of mashups take over.

We have seen plenty of mashups where a website is able to push together a mapping tool, some public data, and user-created content like comments.  I think these mashups are tremendously helpful to organizations working to make real change in their communities, allowing them to more dynamically tell their story and make their case in a compelling way to supporters, funders, and the community at large.  Mashups in this sense aren’t going anywhere, especially as platforms are built to help create them with less technical knowledge and in less time.

The mashups that will come out in 2009 are going to be ones that create hybrid spaces in between the different tools we are already using.  Mashups of applications and spaces, not just information.  We are going to see tools developed that provide a space to interact with your contacts and content in new ways.  Like FriendFeed, but to the next level – where you aren’t creating new contacts or content or spaces; but they all exist already and are ported to the in-between spaces for you and with you as you move.

Community Movement

Tools for individuals are great, but what we’ve seen in 2008 is that the tools that individuals like the most and use the most are the ones that create the most dynamic communities. Tools like Twitter, FriendFeed and social networking.

As new tools develop, whether they are the mashups above, or new tools altogether, they are going to be driven by needs of already-formed communities and not individuals.  We have lots and lots of tools at our disposal as individuals on the web.  We can do what we need to do.  What comes next is tools that accelerate and are created by the needs of communities we already work in and have created online.

This includes organizational communities, in the sense that your organization has created a space for supporters to connect with you (on your blog, Twitter, forums, wiki, whatever), as well as the network of contacts and content I have chosen to follow, subscribe to, or otherwise connect with.

Reality

Regardless of my predictions or anyone else’s, 2009 is going to be a very exciting year. The ‘networked president’ takes office in the US, many countries around the world are facing incredible financial insecurity, terrorism is plaguing many communities, and many of our ‘same old problems’ continue to exist. Innovations online will certainly be tempered by those facts and the developments we see in our social media tools will need to help us continue to connect and discuss the issues we are dealing with around the world.

What are your predictions for 2009? What do you think is going to change the web next year? What was your favorite innovation from 2008?

Predictions for 2009
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  • hi amy

    i’m delighted that posing a simple question can get such a considered response. [note: must do it more often].

    re: mashups
    Agreed! (see also The Unbearable Lightness of Mashups http://www.internetartizans.co.uk/the_unbearable_lightness_of_mashups)

    re: community movement
    Yes, and the more marginalised the community the more interesting it will be when they get it together online e.g. http://www.savvychavvy.com/

    re: reality
    Hmm, dark times. But some echoes of 1968 as well…

    dan

  • thanks, dan!

    regarding your mashups post: there IS a connection between mashups and social change. as organizations find new ways to tell their story through mashups, the opportunity arises to help people take direction as they become aware, supportive, etc. a great example is http://www.ilovemountains.org/ – they have used different mashups, campaigns, widgets, etc. all to help people take action when they become aware of the issue.

    we may be facing dark times, but the potential for positive, progressive change is upon is 🙂

    thanks for starting the conversation!

  • Amy – I would add: pressure to simplify, explain, support if we want more adoption by the vast majority who are not using tools in the fields of social change and innovation, for example.
    If we are using the tools, we naturally want to use and integrate the next good thing … but then risk adding more complexity for those not even using the simplest.
    I don’t know the answer … just feel we may get some push back.

  • David – excellent point, thanks for bringing it up! It’s something I feel really passionate about: we can’t allow ourselves to be completely invested and consumed by the next-best-thing when our passion, energy and knowledge could really be put to great use helping those at the back of the line catch up.

    Do you think we’ll see 2009 presenting options within existing tools to achieve this or new platforms/tools that customize and get started for you?

    Thanks again for adding to the conversation!

  • As always your blog post make for excellent and thrilling reading.

    I think that the one major thing we will see in 2009 is that everything will start to really come together and I suppose complement each other.

    What I’m trying to say is that in the last couple of years a plethora of different ventures has launched and become available and more widely ‘accepted’ too. BUT not all the ventures have yet found their place in the online community (or community in general for that matter). This I think will change greatly in 2009 and we’ll see a new more collaborative approach with lots of exciting great new ideas forming.

    But somewhat echoing what David Wilcox is saying about having to keep things simple and perhaps even make it even more simple to ensure everyone, techies and non-techies alike, will feel comfortable exploring and bringing thoughts to the table.

  • Thanks, David! It’s really the comments that make the blog a great conversation 🙂

    Things will definitely be coming together in ’09. We’ve seen it before with Facebook’s move to open up and the way many other platforms and widgets were able to integrate. Should be fun to watch!

    Is there a certain tool or combination of tools you wish would be developed?

    Thanks for contributing!

  • Amy – on using existing tools more effective/y building new: don’t know, real tension. On the one hand as a mentor/consultant one may want to start for example with organisational needs, activities etc and avoid selling a platform solution. Problem is, you then end up advising people to integrate a whole range of different stuff.
    If you offer platform solutions you may tie people in to costly support, and something that can’t evolve.

  • David – you are exactly right. There is certainly a tension between what consultants and ‘experts’ can and do say. I always try to prioritize my advice around two things:

    1. what is strategically right/best for the organization’s existing community
    2. tools that offer support of a rich and free community online so if/when they have problems they can reach out and get help without a lot of $

    But, not every situation can best meet #1 with a free support community. It’s getting easier though.

    Do you think that organizations adopting new tools appreciate a free, online support community or do they prefer/want/need an offline avenue of support?

  • Amy, what a great post – you say so much in a short space!

    The idea that one’s contacts and content will just “be there” whenever one is online is a fabulous one. Oh that it will be solved in 2009! We clearly see Facebook and Google competing to fulfill that need with Facebook Connect and Google Friend Connect, but people have other networks as well (Ning, MySpace, Live Journal, MyBlogLog and more) so how that problem will be solved remains to be seen. Making it easy but still allowing individual control (for those that compartmentalize their personas) will be key.

    Your observation that tools must “be driven by needs of already-formed communities” is spot on. This will be the main focus of The Resource Center in 2009 as we create an interactive space within our website for an already vibrant National and Community Service community, and help teach that community to leverage additional tools.

    As the already well-connected nptech online community spreads its knowledge, let’s hope 2009 fulfills the promise of “doing more with less”.

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  • Thanks for adding to the conversation, Laura!

    I think you touch on a big issue for many people: separate but equal 🙂 Some people may want their content and contacts to float between spaces online but not enter into other spaces, keeping professional and personal lives separate. As we enter a meshing phase of internet spaces, this will clearly have to be addressed.

    I’m so excited to see The Resource Center’s work in 2009 serve the community and really looking forward to watching how the connections happen. Keep us all posted with the developments!

    Yes – let’s do more with less in 2009!

    Thanks again!

  • hi amy

    re-reading this, your idea of mashups of applications & spaces reminds me of what i was trying to get across with the idea of ‘cloud campaigning’; http://www.internetartizans.co.uk/cloud_campaigning.

    fwiw, we want the new Make Your Mark onoline community to be the kind of ligament that connects different applications and spaces.

    So far we’ve used drupal to create a thin online layer that can plug in to other applications via APIs.

    The question is how we enable people to bring their contacts / communities with them; how do we make best use of openID or facebook connect or google friend connect…

    dan

  • Thanks, Dan!

    I think you are right on with those questions, especially focusing on the movement of contacts/communities and not just actions, etc. The question that comes to mind for me is: what will the community want to share with their contacts when they are using our space communicate and take action? How do you make your space one in which people come up with ideas for social enterprise, share those ideas, and then collaborate to make them happen?

    Obviously, we could talk about this all day – or at least all afternoon in another Social Media Afternoon 🙂