Well, as we are just a hop, skip and an eggnog away from putting on silly hats, drinking champagne, and kissing random people as we bid goodbye to the year, it behooves me to look into the digital rearview mirror and ponder what we can see rushing away from us.
And it has been quite a year. I covered much of what had stood out over the last eleven months in my late November Backspin column The Eighth Annual Gibbs Golden Turkey Awards.
In that column I castigated the Federal Communications Commission for its clumsy handling of its Net Neutrality Rules; the supporters of J.Res.6, a resolution that attempted (unsuccessfully) to overturn those same Neutrality Rules; HP, Netflix, and Research in Motion for their maladroit management and lack of strategic planning; Google for its ill-conceived "true names" policy and for idiotically collecting unsecured WiFi data; people who have unsecured WiFi access points; Nokia for thinking that Windows Phone 7 could save them; and Microsoft for making Internet Explorer a wretched piece of $%^$.
The icing on the rotten turducken and the winner of the Grand Golden Turkey was the ongoing effort by the forces of Big Media to push bills through the House and the Senate that would allow the DOJ to shutter Web sites that were accused of piracy. These bills, "Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011" (the "PROTECT IP Act"), and the "Stop Online Piracy Act" (SOPA) would, if passed, legalize the violation of "due process" by assuming guilt before innocence.
Note that these wretched efforts are by no means over and, without you voicing your opposition (I recommend checking out stopcensorship.org), there's still a real risk that these bills will become law!
Since my November column we've had CIQgate, the brouhaha over the use of CarrierIQ's embedded software by cellular service providers to report on what consumer's smartphones are doing. While the whole fracas is still up in the air, CIQgate seems to be both less and more than it first appeared.
CIQgate was less because it seems that the level of information gathered was not as invasive as was first claimed. On the other hand it was also more because the potential for abuse of cell user's privacy by the carriers and the government is not inconsiderable given the nature of the software.
Altogether the outstanding issues and entities make a pretty sad collection. If you look at the list from on high you might reasonably conclude that in the world of IT business, 2011 was the year of klutzes, kluges, ignorance and apathy. And, to some extent, you'd be right.
I have to digress for a moment to point out the one bright spot was in November when Adobe admitted that HTML5 is the righteous way of the future (OK, they didn't quite frame it like that) and that they're axing Mobile Flash and Flash for connected TVs (and I'll do a Romney and bet $10,000 that the rest of the Flash runtime platform will not last for longer than two more years).
So, what can we expect for 2012? For that, you'll have to wait for my 2012 outlook column in the forthcoming Jan. 9 issue of Network World. Until then, have a great Christmas, a fantastic New Year, and, fingers crossed ... hell, everything crossed ... let's hope that 2012 is better than 2011.
Gibbs is getting festive in Ventura, Calif. Jingle your bells at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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