i-3bbe61d66125fe75c8cfe858a799af17-2007 Crystal Ball.jpg
Ever since I spent my winter break at college writing for the school newspaper — and writing a bunch of year-in-review pieces — I’ve had a bad taste in my mouth about year-end roundups and year-forward predictions. I think it’s a good idea to get some perspective on the year, and consider where we’re going, but often these features end up being a bit, well, predictable.

After reading through countless articles summing up changes in media for 2006, I can say the year was a massive breakthrough for online video — and YouTube in particular — as well as for citizen journalism and user-generated content. But I already knew that, and so did you.

And most people take the easy way out when it comes to predictions. They simply re-predict what analysts were saying the year before: Microsoft will buy Yahoo, or eBay will buy Yahoo, or Google will buy anything that breathes. So I decided this year to really put YOU in charge of the Predict-O-Rama for 2007, and asked for your most audacious predictions. Here’s a sampling of some of your more interesting ideas:

> “The notion of a mass market is finally laid to rest, as marketers uncover effective ways to reach clusters of individual consumers that have similar lifestyles, interests and behaviors. At least one big multinational ad agency will fail to evolve, by embracing this transformation. As a result, they will be disregarded as fossils from a bygone era.” — David H. Deans, of GeoActive Group, who explains this more at AlwaysOn

> “The Internet will become a more increasingly multimedia forum. Artists will increasingly turn to the Internet, and blog sites in particular, to showcase their talents. The blogosphere will become the new L.A., the new Nashville, and the new New York where artists will break into the music scene in an independent manner that will eventually render big record companies virtually obsolete.” — Dr. BLT

> “Google will finally deliver a browser and an online video [will] play automatically in it. Of course, there will be a lot of other goodies.” — Ken Leebow

> “Hillary or Barack or John McCain will get one of their ‘VOTE FOR ME’ bumper stickers visible in ‘24’ or some other highly rated TV show. Who knows how far the relationship between Hollywood and politicians will go? We’ll see.” — Frank Baker

> “Either the New York Times or the Washington Post will look at the ‘day pass’ route where a sponsor provides access to content behind the paid barrier (like the Economist and Salon do now). One of the Web 2.0 bloggers will try to charge for content and fail. A major Web 2.0 micromedia/blogger will go under (probably not the same one as tried to charge for content, but you never know).” — Ged Carroll

My favorite prediction also comes from Ged Carroll because it’s the least audacious: “Web 2.0 will just be the web.” (It’s actually a summation of John Battelle’s prediction below.)

For some reason, this “Your Take” blog entry on MediaShift has been inundated over the past few days by spammers who run comments with repeated links to “WebCam Girls,” “WebCam Sex,” and “WebCam Strip.” I will accept that as a prediction that webcam sex will thrive in 2007. How can I argue with that contention when sites such as Stickam are getting media attention in the New York Times just two days into the new year?

As for the other swamis out there beyond the MediaShift realm, here are some of their more entertaining predictions:

> “1) Call me overly logical, but if lonelygirl15 was such a huge step above the completely unknown lonelygirl14, I predict lonelygirl16 will star in ‘Mission Impossible 4.’ 2) Nothing in 2007 will be as big in the world of entertainment as Lindsay Lohan’s funeral. Not only for the speeches by Paris, Britney and Meryl, but for the chance to reminisce about the grandest celebrity era in history.” — Joel Stein, Los Angeles Times columnist in a prediction roundup

> “Apple Computer Inc. unveils an iPod cellphone that is anything but the bride of ‘FrankenPhone,’ the name given its first attempt to put the iTunes music service on Motorola’s clunky Rokr phone.” — Los Angeles Times staffer roundup (note how nobody puts their name on this roundup)

> “Despite Google’s leading market share, Yahoo!‘s Panama launch [of its advertising service], and Microsoft’s substantial search-related investments, Ask.com, part of IAC/InterActiveCorp, is the search engine to watch in 2007. We foresee market share gains, news regarding innovations like Ask X, and progress in paid listings.” — Scott Kessler of Standard & Poor’s, writing for BusinessWeek

> “Content has evolved online, we won’t see new portals per se, but we will see vertical portals, or countless niche sites, some of which produce niche, contextual content along verticals and others who do not create any content but simply aggregate it. As a direct result of intermediation and personalization, a lot of people will drop Digging (I’m using the term here for what Digg represents: the good, bad and ugly of Web 2.0 and not only contributors to Digg) and the like and start doing similar things for themselves.” — HipMojo’s Ashkan Karbasfrooshan, writing at Seeking Alpha

> “A major media outlet will predict that the Web 2.0 bubble has burst or deflated seriously. The prediction will be wrong. I’ve been seeing more and more respected voices out there claiming we’re in a bubble of some sort or another when it comes to Web 2.0. I predicted that the meme will have played out in 2006, and I think I was right, but the underlying foundational strength of what created that meme is far too strong to be a bubble or played out.” — John Battelle, writing on SearchBlog

Want to add something to the mix? It’s never too late to gaze into your crystal ball and share what you see in the comments below.

[Crystal ball photo by Kevin Trotman, with some touch-up in Photoshop by me.]