I was considering posting a reply to 12 Things That Became Obsolete This Decade
(posted by tothetenthpower) and I kept encountering the same problem. There are a lot of things out there which are on very untenable ground, or in
some cases have already had the final nail beaten into their coffin, but which have so far been preserved well enough to almost appear alive, even
stable, largely because 2008-2009 were really bad years in a lot of ways and that may have slowed progress on many fronts.
So you may want to brace yourselves to see some very common things become considerably rarer between 2010-2020.
#1 (o)___)>. Non-Internet Television
(that thing with number 1 is supposed to be a bullet. Yes I know that's not the kind of
bullet the expression refers to.)
TV's days are numbered. Why?
A1. The consumer is sick of paying for cable and getting 25-33% commercials for his money.
A2. The consumer would really like for his TV to become a 30"-72" computer monitor in front of his couch, and in the age of lightweight computers
and wireless everything (including recharging) they can finally have it.
A3. The consumer wants to continue enjoying TV and movies with friends, even in a world where friends no longer go to each other's houses or
necessarily see each other face to face.
B. The creators don't want to lose out on money just because they can't get air time, or you weren't home to tune in, or because you're watching
pirated versions online instead.
C. The cable companies don't want to be locked in to just a hand full of major content providers fighting over big money. They'd rather charge a
very large number of somewhat smaller content providers to be carried on a non-neutral network.
D. Advertisers want to know what their getting for their money in ways that Nielsen ratings just can't provide.
E. Computer manufacturers would like to see a computer in every home in the industrialized world (and in so doing bring down the unit cost without
necessarily lowering the retail price), which will happen if computer becomes the new TV, although some of us would probably be operating with a bare
bones model that's not significantly distinguished from a TV hooked up to a Playstation 2 (i know there is a 3, that's deliberate).
F. The straw that breaks the camel's back will the development of an economical heads up display, quite possibly in spectacle form, allowing you to
shed a 50 pound burden and use one visual display for all of your electronic devices.
2. One or even both of America's major political parties.
The Republicans appear to be under the most imminent threat as conservative movements not explicitly tied to the party structure have begun to carry a
lot of the weight of opposing the Democratic majority. If the Republicans can't significantly cut into the Democratic majority in 2010, this opens
them up to the possibility of independent or third party candidacies in the spirit of the "tea party" when 2012 rolls around, IF such a movement can
put forward a presidential contender of Ross Perot's caliber or better. Such a movement would not have to carry a single state to put the Republican
Party in a fight for its life. They would have to take 40 seats mostly from the same party. They can take the 40 seats from either party, as long as
they get them. Taking 40 seats from the Republicans in 2012 after a stalemate in 2010 would force the formation of a conservative coalition just to
maintain a functioning opposition party. Taking 40 seats from the Democrats (actually it might not be a full 40: it would be 40 minus any number the
Republicans gain in 2010) would put the Republicans in an even more precarious position, as they would find themselves sharing power in a majority
coalition, and run the risk of fueling their rivals even with their successes. That last scenario in particular could hypothetically result in a third
party plurality in the House at the same time as the House was called on to decide a presidential election between a Democrat and a 3rd Party as early
as 2016. If that happened, Republicans could theoretically side with the Democrats in an effort to check the growing 3rd party and end up further
alienating conservatives, resulting in an implosion of the Republican Party, some of whose members might think about reinventing themselves as "New
Blue Dogs" for lack of a better term.
But these same possibilities are dangerous for the Democrats. Their recent gains could ebb fast in 2010, which is conducive to the coalition scenario
above. If purple districts start heading back to the red end of the spectrum, moderates may start to feel pretty lonely in the Democratic party, and
could even get saddled with the blame by more liberal democrats in the event that the Obama administration goes down in flames come 2012. This,
combined with a fracture in the Republican party, could invite the beginnings of a small tea-party like Democratic insurrection, which could follow a
few steps behind a conservative 3rd party (in the event that such a thing ever got off the ground). So if the Republicans go, the Democrats need to
brace for impact as well, although that assumes a continuation of today's high intensity politics in order to fuel such a rebellion over an 8-16 year
3. Public libraries in working class towns
The public library is rapidly becoming a free internet cafe and video rental store. They can cut their staff and payroll, their size and rent, and
their equipment to provide more internet access to more people at a universally affordable price, and in so doing generate badly needed revenue for
city governments, particularly in poorer cities where personal computer ownership is lower. All they've got to do is get rid of all those old books
and shelves and librarians that often times sit there doing nothing for months, just waiting for an unsupervised child to come along and destroy them
while his mom is on the computer. Even this could end up going right back out within 10-20 years of its conception though if universal computer
ownership is eventually achieved, ie: possibility #1.
4. Telephones as we know them, including cellular
In all fairness, we will still be carrying devices in our pockets that allow us to conduct voice conversations remotely, but when that stops being the
primary reason consumers need them, the form and function will change even more wildly than they already have. The main hold up is creating a hands
free input system that works as fast or faster than a mouse and keyboard. That in and of itself adds enough functionality to current high end phones
that they become legit computers in the eyes of average consumers.
5. The taser
I know full well that this is wishful thinking but I hate those freaking things, and I think their elimination from our society, the bankruptcy of
every individual who ever made a dime off of them, and the castration of everyone who ever used on inappropriately is a dream worth keeping alive in
the new decade, so it's on my list, against all odds.
This list is not coming along very quickly, so I'll break for now. I do intend to move beyond just the things I expect to disappear. There are also
some things I expect to appear and some events I think are reasonable to anticipate, but I've stayed up so late that it got early again already and I
need some sleep.