Casey Stengel, baseball hall of famer, once said, “Never make predictions, especially about the future.” He was probably right, and I may regret this blog post in a year or so. With that in mind, here's the five Internet-related topics that I think are going to be very important in 2010:
1. Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs). At the ICANN meeting in Seoul in October 2009, ICANN announced one of the most significant changes to the Internet in its 40 year history. I blogged about it when it happened, and since then it has gone on to pretty much dominate domain name news. Since November 2009, nations and territories have been able to apply for IDN ccTLDs. If all goes according to plan, these IDNs will be operational by mid-2010. Since non-Latin alphabet scripts are used by something like 800 million Internet users, it's pretty safe to assume IDNs will be a popular item in 2010.
2. How the rise of social media is changing the way people use the Internet. When CIRA began 10 years ago, we used the Internet to get information from websites and send emails. Fast forward to 2009. The rise in social networking sites means fewer people are using email, and we're using the Internet to share and interact with each other. Social media is still new and we're just trying to find our way around it – think about the current debates about privacy– but it's already changed the way many of us do business and even how some kids are learning. In short, we're witnessing a change in the way people actually use the Internet.
3. Internet governance, including the new arrangement between ICANN and the U.S. Government. Following the ICANN meeting in Seoul, South Korea at the end of October 2009, I blogged about the fact that the U.S. government now has an indefinite contract as the top watchdog for the overall ICANN process. Following that meeting, hardly a mention was made of it in the media. I know we haven't heard the last of this issue; it may likely take on a life of its own in 2010.
4. The emergence of mobile as the next big thing for accessing the Internet. There are more than 450 million mobile Internet users worldwide and that number is increasing. The meteoric rise in popularity of some social media sites like Twitter are in part driving the rise in use of mobile devices (or is it the other way around?), making this a topic that we are going to hear a lot about in 2010.
5. Streaming media. The fact that so many Internet users now have broadband access and that video sharing sites like YouTube and Vimeo have so much content has people, especially Canadians, moving away from their TVs to their computers to watch videos. This rise in the use of video on the Internet continues to drive demand for bandwidth. I think we're going to start talking about this a lot in 2010. What do you think the top stories of 2010 will be? Disponible en français sur demande.