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The Magic 8-Ball's Take on Tech in 2008 52

PCWMike writes "It's that time of year again, when every website makes predictions about the future of technology. PCWorld is no exception, but tried to put a little humor into their prognostication by calling on a neutral third party: the magic 8-ball. '4. Open Software and Open Networks Will Dominate! Magic 8-Ball says: Ask again later. Open-source software meets open wireless networks, fostering an unbridled era of innovation and consumer freedom. Right? Well, maybe one day, but don't bet the bank on it in 2008.'"
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The Magic 8-Ball's Take on Tech in 2008

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  • by jacquesm ( 154384 ) <j@@@ww...com> on Monday January 07, 2008 @05:37AM (#21940138) Homepage
    If you want to have an idea of where technlogy is headed.

    Read Neal Stephenson, go watch Gattaca but whatever you do don't bother reading PC magazine :)

    • I love reading science fiction, specifically Asimov, Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke science fiction. Unfortunately such writings are getting old in their "fiction" side (some things are more like sad reality now). Does anyone know of any good science fiction authors writing these days? I am looking for science fiction and not SciFi or fantasy...

      It is too hard to find good Science Fiction these days..
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        If you like speculative fiction, Bill Gates wrote a book about an alternative universe where the Internet never happened.

      • by AJWM ( 19027 )
        Does anyone know of any good science fiction authors writing these days? I am looking for science fiction and not SciFi or fantasy...

        Yes, but unfortunately the market for it isn't what it used to be. (Actually I suspect that in raw numbers it's better than it's ever been, but most publishing houses compare it against the markets for fantasy and SciFi).

        Look for stuff by Steven Baxter, Wil McCarthy, Allen Steele, John Stith, perhaps Jerry Oltion, among others.

        And me, when I get published ;-)
        • Iain M. Banks
          Greg Bear
          James Blish
          Stephen Baxter

          (much older)

          Frederik Pohl
          C. M. Kornbluth

          if you can find it 'the space merchants' is a really good read

          enjoy !
      • Charles Stross (Score:3, Informative)

        by Rix ( 54095 )
        Writes some good near future sci-fi (Accelerando and Halting State). You should also check out Vernor Vinge's Rainbows End.
      • You absolutely and without a doubt have to read Charles Stross, it's about 10 minutes into the future and it's based on your life, if it's anything like most ./ readers. His most recent one is Halting State [amazon.com]
      • by catprog ( 849688 )
        what is that difference between SciFi and science fiction
    • by Tikkun ( 992269 )
      I agree, Neal Stephenson is a great author. I just read Snow Crash [wikipedia.org] and I really enjoyed it.
  • The predictions (Score:5, Informative)

    by mincognito ( 839071 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @05:38AM (#21940152)
    1. The Internet Will Melt Down
    Very doubtful

    2. Social Networks Face Security, Financial Woes
    It is decidedly so

    3. DRM Is Dead, Jim
    Don't count on it

    4. Open Software and Open Networks Will Dominate
    Ask again later

    5. Everything's Going Mobile
    You may rely on it

    6. Green Is the New Black
    Outlook good

    7. Hackers Get Political
    Without a doubt

    8. Google Stumbles
    Outlook not so good

    9. Microsoft Will Buy Yahoo
    Signs point to yes

    10. Your Next Pet Will Require Batteries
    Cannot predict now

    • and kicks Microsoft on the way down...
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      11. CEOs will throw more chairs. Outlook not --
    • by RotateLeftByte ( 797477 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @06:11AM (#21940330)
      That is vista

      12: Microsoft continues to promote their 'Surface' technology http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7174333.stm [bbc.co.uk] as the be-all and end all of input systems

      13: Gates resumes daily role in Microsoft, fires Balmer and then starts throwing chairs out of the Window as he struggles to use the latest beta of VS 2010 shouting, "I know how to frigging program
        you useless heap of sh1t" as the 'help' system tries to tell him that 'goto' is not allowed.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      From the article:

      (Full disclosure: In some cases we had to shake the ball a few times to achieve the right answer.)

      So much for that - these predictions don't have the credibility of true randomness.
    • by Chrisq ( 894406 )
      Looking at these results I'd say the magic 8 ball probably does as good a job as the industry pundits.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Hey! How come magic "eight" ball gives 10 distinct results???
      • by LMacG ( 118321 )
        Actually, the standard Magic 8-Ball gives twenty distinct results. In a fit of utter boredom some years ago, I wrote them all down and ranked them according whether they were positive, negative, or non-specific. There followed a multiple-day email exchange in my workgroup, discussing my interpretations, and whether something like "reply hazy try again" indicated an actual answer or a problem with the prediction abilities of the mystically encased dodecahedron.
    • by kellyb9 ( 954229 )
      11. This article is somewhat pointless and makes fairly obvious claims.
      You can count on it
    • Britney spears with four male backup singers (and dead DRM, of course)

      3. I think you're wrong about the DRM. DRM was stillborn, as every pipe dream (in the case of the RIAA, crack pipe dream) is. DRM is already dead, was dead to begin with. What man can make, man can break. What a team of programmers can create, a million nerds can can shred in an evening.

      Once the lock's broken anyone can get in.

      She's dead, Jim. She's always been dead. That's not wedding rice, that's maggots.

    • Why do those predictions feel so accurate?
    • by Roddd ( 816234 )
      "Outlook not so good"

      Indeed, Microsoft Outlook is not good at all...
  • by syousef ( 465911 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @05:48AM (#21940208) Journal
    Things will get worse before they get better for software. We're accepting buggier software than ever and paying more for it than ever. We're spending more time trying to get the hardware and software to behave itself (maintenance and troubleshooting, never mind the BS companies are putting in our ways with things like DRM going crazy these days) than we are actually accomplishing tasks. I naively thought things would get better but it's become clear to me that things are going to much much worse before they get better. Only when things get so bad they're unusable (and therefore unbuyable) are people going to pay attention.
    • by SharpFang ( 651121 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @06:28AM (#21940408) Homepage Journal
      Things will get worse before they get better for software. We're accepting buggier software than ever and paying more for it than ever.

      More or less. The market shows with the whole hype for "beta" that stability is not what people require from software. It doesn't have to work 'always', just 'mostly'.

      Remember that each halving the number of remaining bugs costs the same. So going from 94% uptime to 98% uptime costs the same as going from 99.5% to 99.75%. You can produce a program that works in 99.75% cases, or two that work in 94% cases each for about the same price. And with keeping the functionality rich and prices low, people will close an eye on stability.
      • by fuzz6y ( 240555 )

        And with keeping the functionality rich and prices low, people will close an eye on stability.

        I'd just like to point out that if we insisted that software be entirely bug-free, we would have no software. None. No man on the moon. No cell phone. No super-saver shipping from amazon. I think in terms of the benefits of sometimes-buggy software compared with the cost of software defects, we are way in the black.

        How many thousands of cancer survivors are there for every one THERAC-25 [wikipedia.org] victim?

        • by syousef ( 465911 )
          What I've seen is software getting unusable. Bugs that are show stoppers. Not just for the first version either, but bugs that persist to the point that they get in the way of you doing useful things. Not in all software, just in a lot of it. For example the miriad of video editors that crash more often than they produce video. (I've even seen a piece of DVD software for which creating a menu left you with one where the buttons didn't work and therefore instead of a DVD you had a coaster).
    • by GWBasic ( 900357 )

      Only when things get so bad they're unusable (and therefore unbuyable) are people going to pay attention.

      Isn't that happening with some forms of DRM?

      I have to admit that I'm holding off on buying stuff because I just don't think it'll work well enough. I'm sick of things almost-working.

  • by Gopal.V ( 532678 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @05:55AM (#21940240) Homepage Journal

    The magic 8-ball can in fact predict the future. To do that reverse the polarity of the universe (CPT symmetries apply), entangle the entropies of the required universe with the 8-ball and remember to shake the ball outside the universe to avoid recursion.

    Seriously, anyone who's read Experts Speak [amazon.com] or paleo-future blog [blogspot.com] will probably be rather critical of such predictions. But like the Dune book says, prescience does modify the future like a fish through water.

    So, being hopeful about the future, but wary about it at the same time is the most productive approach to predictions. Check plus on that for this effort.

    • by maxume ( 22995 )
      Your English writing style makes your sig *really* funny.
    • by EXTomar ( 78739 )
      I took the article as meaning the Magic 8-Ball is about as good as industry pundit. Or at least the possible outcomes from the Magic 8-Ball are just as insightful if not the how both come to their conclusions. Basing future technology decisions on a pundit or Magic 8-Ball, instead of research, seem equally foolish.
  • Just remember (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kitsunewarlock ( 971818 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @06:01AM (#21940284) Journal
    Whatever is coming in the future will be bleak, confusing and only serve to remind us how much better things were when we were children. Its been said since the beginning of civilization and therefore must be true.
  • by Fredge ( 186975 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @06:06AM (#21940312)
    One minute the magic 8 ball is saying 'Outlook Good' and the next minute it's saying 'Outlook Not So Good'.

    Is it really that tough to pick an email client?
  • PCWorld (Score:2, Funny)

    by Frozen Void ( 831218 )
    Stepping so low,and slashdot parroting it.
    Next up in news : How many licks it takes to get to the center of 9-volt battery and tic-tac-toe championship results.
  • we should do this every year
    • Writer: "So Magic 8 Ball, the only purpose people can come up with for you is the comedy value of your predictions. This may mean that the best place for you is a dustbin, unless of course we do these predictions every year. Should we do Magic 8 Ball predictions every year?"

      Magic 8 Ball: "Outlook Not So G - wait a second! You can count on it!"
  • SCO (Score:3, Funny)

    by apodyopsis ( 1048476 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @06:34AM (#21940432)
    well that's great! What does the Magic 8 Ball say about SCO?

    ..outlook not so good?

    (also why does it have such a problem with Outlook? ok, I'm no MS fan boy but Outlook at least works. sheesh, next thing you know somebody will claim the 8 ball runs Linux.)
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by pklong ( 323451 )
      No, the article writer was just checking his email whilst shaking the 8-ball and it got a bit confused.
    • next thing you know somebody will claim the 8 ball runs Linux.

      My sources say no
  • by unlametheweak ( 1102159 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @07:02AM (#21940542)
    Some long range predictions. Take them with a grain of salt if you will.

    Proprietary Operating systems will become either open source or free as in beer as existing OSS operating systems become more sophisticated, user-friendly, and compatible with proprietary systems. (ReactOS and Wine as examples of the compatibility).

    DRM will become a none-issue as record labels realize that it is more efficient to phish for users on P2P networks and sue them, rather than to alienate paying customers with DRM issues.

    The Internet will break up into smaller proprietary pieces much like the former Yugoslavia. Countries and companies alike will seek to gain control over their own Netizens through proprietary protocols, clients and servers, firewalls, etc. And the Geek crowd will seek there own refuge (from the incessant censorship and control of the available "open" Internet) in private IRC servers and channels, and through services such as Freenet and Onion server based services and Web sites.

    There will always be people who read spam and and open virus filled email attachments, because people will always want larger penises, bigger breasts, and more money. Hope will never die.

    Small and intelligent home-built "hobby" Robots and self-replicating nano-technology based devices will be the new nuisance of the future.

    Bookmark this comment and come back to it in 10 to 20 years and see...
    It's all just speculation... but I think there is a strong probability of these things coming true based on current trends.
  • by jimicus ( 737525 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @08:46AM (#21940972)
    Must say, it sounds like a distinct improvement over Dvorak's annual wrong-a-thon.
  • Magic 8-Ball says: Don't count on it

    Has the Magic 8 ball been patented?

    On a side note, I think they will try and push it for another few years, somewhere they will either run into the "is it worth the hassle" brick wall, or they will have created the only avenue of getting legitimate content by locking out those who don't embrace the technology.

    I for one hope for the former...
  • This one has been talked about for a while. Didn't Yahoo shoot this idea down [internetnews.com] pretty quickly last year? What has changed to make it any more likely? The only reasons I can think of for this to occur are

    1. MS would get the advantage of a search engine on par with Google.
    2. MS would also get the advertising revenue that Yahoo brings in.
    3. Yahoo could gain access to MS Office Live, allowing them to compete with Google in online document creation and collaboration.

    Both companies offer very similar services (as

Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap; it will be dear to you. -- Thomas Jefferson