2010: What changes lay ahead?

2009 was a year that increased government use of technology and applications. All decade long, institutions latched on and have attempted to maximize the use of Internet technology. The latency of government behind everyone else is now over, it has sync'd up.
Written by Doug Hanchard, Contributor

2009 was a year that increased government use of technology and applications. All decade long, Institutions latched on and have attempted to maximize the use of Internet technology. The latency of government behind everyone else is now over, it has sync'd up. Twitter use by the U.S. State Department, demonstrations in Iran blogged all over the world as they happened from a secular and controlled society, with commentary by government blogs around the world. Internet communications is now used as an accountability tool, with information leaks disseminated via the web in microseconds such as the publications of East Anglia emails, and political bashing occurring faster than in any other form or medium of communication. It's all a very public affair where it concerns politicians and government.

Reaching and targeting individuals on the internet have set the cross hairs of the government at your doorstep.  Agencies all over the world have started to hunt down I.P. addresses and news blogs with subpoena's and within a day you could be visited by federal agents as several bloggers found out last weekend after publishing on their blog a Transport Security Agency Security Directive (SD) that was leaked from within the TSA to the public. Yet, have we heard of any progress in determining who or what organization is responsible for the break in at East Anglia? Many doubt that a serious investigation will even occur. The government has priorities some more equal than others; George Orwell is never very far away from us...

And what does 2010 hold? Is this a year of growth, pause, and backlash of the Internet? Nobody knows for sure, but government is clearly going to have a stake in what happens. Antitrust is not going to go away with more scrutiny and awareness of domination by any one single company in a market space. Google is likely to replace Microsoft as the number one target.

Information overload by government is a genuine possibility. Rather than classifying or withholding information, many are suggesting why not simply flood the internet with it. Who's going to have time to read it all anyway? Former Vice President Al Gore's book, An Inconvenient Truth, may have renewed meaning, only it won't be about global warming, instead it might be about mass information publication that nobody reads. President Obama has mandated every agency open the floodgates of information. Let's hope it is not too boring. Climatologists might want to open up the same way or risk becoming a nonevent this year.

2010 is possibly the year that file sharing through applications like Bit Torrent disappear, at least publicly. The heavyweight copyright associations are making headway and governments are listening. The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)  treaty may happen in 2010. Just how many countries actually sign onto ACTA is another matter. Count on some kind of complete rewrite of laws concerning copyright to take hold in the United States as it has already in France regardless if it is a single treaty agreed by all or not. Internet access will be the price you pay for violation of copyright. Net Neutrality will be taking a back seat to this issue. The neutrality of the internet is a 2011 story before any kind of definition that is accepted in practice.

The social world occurring via the Internet is beginning the next phase in its evolution. Facebook and other social portals continue to gain more and more followers.  For every person that leaves Facebook, it seems four more replace them. Facebook is becoming more commercial everyday and government is not missing the boat with politicians and its institutions jumping into the mix. These components are one of many that will exist inside social media portals. Friends will pass on news, new marketing gimmicks, products and what their local politician has to say. Often they will be an influence on people's thoughts, while others simply blotted out and ignored. Political issues will either gain strength or die very quickly and easily deleted from many a user's profile.

A new undercurrent is gaining momentum on these sites; people are facing their foes, opposition, and groups that they disagree with. The dialogue occurring between these groups was once the purview of only the diplomats upon which people relied upon to speak for them. Today, they are now talking directly with each other, bypassing government all together.

Recruiting people for causes and idolizing martyrs is also on the rise. As soon as one 'fan club' gets taken down, there are others that take their place. But it's not all doom and gloom. There is social dialogue focusing on bridging opposing ideologies, creating groups that seek out solutions to global problems in conflict, civil rights, environmental concerns and economic disparity. Perhaps this is the year where governance is by the people rather than the politician, facilitated by the Internet and other technologies.

2010 will have some casualties and it's questionable whether or not government can intervene. Newspapers have been slowly disappearing all across the United States. Is this the year that affects their ability to survive? Papers have survived other mediums -- radio and television -- and often gained readership despite the new competition for advertising revenue. The internet's mass may spell the end for some of the finest newspaper organizations ever to exist.

The internet has always been about change.

Update: January 8, 2010: Canada's Canwest Global Newspaper Group files for bankruptcy protection.

The group, saddled with $1.3-billion in debt, includes many of Canada's leading daily newspapers, such as the Ottawa Citizen, Calgary Herald, Montreal Gazette and Vancouver Sun.

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