4 Bold Predictions for the Social Web in 2018

As we wrap up the semester and MI621 draws to a close, I decided to take a slightly different approach to our “concluding thoughts” post.  Since we’ve done a great deal of reflection on past trends and current developments in social media, I thought it might be interesting to take a stab at considering future directions in the field.  Now, some of these extrapolations are admittedly bolder than others, but I tried to go out on a limb somewhat and give myself something to look back on over the next five years.  Thoughts, agreements, and mocking disagreements are all welcome:

  1. Instagram will no longer exist as a standalone app – Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram was met with trepidation by users that swear by Instagram’s focused, simple feed.  Many feared that Facebook would strip Instagram’s features and just fold them into the overall Facebook experience in an effort to stop a hot competitor.  Both sides put those fears to rest by declaring the companies separate entities that would be developed apart from one another moving forward.
    Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/karstenstrauss/2012/05/24/facebook-launches-instagram-fueled-photo-app/
    Source: http://goo.gl/CJMyZ

    Those sentiments may very well have been sincere, but as Facebook continues to hone its advertising strategy and feature integration, I believe that they will look to Instagram as one of its most potentially valuable commodities.  There are other ways to take Instagram’s large and dedicated user base to profitability, but the most direct route seems to force users to engage with the content through the tried and true Facebook News Feed (particularly as they work to make the Feed more photo-friendly).  My hunch is that Facebook’s compromise in this shift will be allowing users to view an “Instagram Only” feed through a simple click, much in the same way that you can now create specific feeds (friends, family, etc.).

  2. Twitter will acquire Yahoo! (and reinvent the site using an endless stream of data from tweets) – As Twitter continues to grow its active user base, the company will likely look to capitalize on its vast data source (as can be seen in the new Twitter music app).
    Source: http://zapt0.staticworld.net/images/article/2012/11/twitter_chubb-100012107-gallery.jpg
    Source: http://goo.gl/Sm51z

    Currently, other companies seem to leverage Twitter’s main asset (publicly shared tweets) more than Twitter itself.  Yahoo! is a company that does many things, and it does almost none of them well.  Yet, because Yahoo! was one of the original large names on the web, it maintains a large user base that uses their services for everything from email to fantasy football.  Rather than submit to the painful mix of slow decline and failed modernization attempts, Yahoo! may eventually look to salvage its remaining value.  If so, Twitter seems a logical buyer, as the company’s immense data flow would allow for an infusion of unique and incomparably fast content across all aspects of Yahoo’s business (news, search, games, maps, music, and so on).

  3. Restaurants will go through life cycles quicker, and overall quality will be raised as a result – Yelp has become an integral part of local business search, and I believe it (and perhaps similar other companies) will only continue to grow as the population moves towards universal comfort with mobile applications.
    Yelp's recent growth Source: http://www.yelp-press.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=250809&p=irol-press
    Yelp’s recent growth
    Source: http://goo.gl/P87wW

    Yelp’s anticipated growth translates to new challenges and opportunities for businesses (and restaurants in particular) that are now reviewed by average consumers more than the “professional” counterparts.  This scrutiny will force restaurants to become responsive to customers, who will be equipped with options, insights, and new tools for feedback in previously unseen ways.  Perhaps the most vital feature of Yelp’s model that speaks to future potential is that it works best on mobile.  While other companies struggle to keep up with consumer movement from computer  to mobile, Yelp is centered around the premise that it integrates mobile features (location services in particular) to increase usability.

  4. A new degree will be introduced in higher education – The emergence of MOOCs into the higher education landscape is already disrupting traditional notions of the collegiate experience.  While some lawmakers and entrepreneurs have made noise about MOOCs eventually replacing brick and mortar universities, the pushback against this viewpoint is palpable within much of the higher education community.  Instead, a third path will emerge in
    Source: http://goo.gl/6r3UB
    Source: http://goo.gl/6r3UB

    which, while universities work to “flip” classrooms and leverage new technologies to enhance the traditional college experience, MOOCs will also emerge as legitimate centers of education.  This path, as I see it, may most logically be developed through a new degree that will be distinguished from an associate or bachelor’s degree as awarded exclusively by MOOCs.  The development of this degree will allow for universities to maintain their standing within the educational community while also allowing for the creation of a new set of standards, expectations, and accountability for MOOCs.

So, what do you all think?  What are your predictions for the future of the social web/social media?  Do you agree or disagree with my extrapolations?  I’d love to keep this conversation going, so please feel free to provide feedback!

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2 thoughts on “4 Bold Predictions for the Social Web in 2018

  1. PiShaped

    Love it, completely agree with you on all points. Clearly, we’re heading for some major disruption of higher education once EdX, Udacity, et al get some major traction. I also don’t think this new degree will do away with the traditional 4-year go-away-to-college degree – at least for the next 10 years. What it will do is force some traditional schools to certainly rethink their platform, and may even force some other, lesser institutions to begin to fade away.
    Also, I think more and more employers will begin to recognize these types of courses as legitimate alternatives and appreciate the skills learned.

    I think Point #2 is your boldest claim, but it does make a lot of sense. Presumably, twitter will have IPO’d by then, and, based on their current trajectory, they could be worth something to the tune of $50-100 billion. $YHOO’s current purchase price is around $25 billion, so twitter would most likely have to finance the deal with some debt. But one could imagine that by 2018, Marissa may fail to generate a positive change in the company, making their value much more attractive to twitter in a few years.
    What is clear is that Twitter is an incredibly powerful platform whose potential hasn’t even been fully realized, in my opinion. And it’s also clear Yahoo needs to figure what in the heck kind of company they actually are.

    1. adamgismondi

      I was just talking to someone on Gmail about the Yahoo/Twitter company size dynamic – As it stands, Yahoo is actually still larger than Twitter, but exactly as you mention above – I think the two will come closer together in size and eventually Twitter will overtake Yahoo (and eventually speed past it). I think Yahoo is currently still riding the wave of the past to maintain a large user base, but it just does not seem sustainable to me.

      The higher ed side of things is particularly of interest to me, as you might imagine, and it’s encouraging to see some faculty members and other university officials embracing new tech opportunities. I think you’re right – some universities may fall (or perhaps be absorbed by other schools) as they fail to adapt/don’t have resources to adapt.

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