This story was written by Keith Dawson for UBM DeusM’s community Web site Develop in the Cloud, sponsored by AT&T. It is archived here for informational purposes only because the Develop in the Cloud site is no more. This material is Copyright 2012 by UBM DeusM.

2013 Predictions from Freedom to Tinker

A "digital technologies & public life" blog looks ahead.

Princeton's Freedom to Tinker blog offers predictions for 2013 touching on some of the topics we have discussed in this community. Let's take a look at a few.

Do Not Track
The authors of the blog, which mostly covers public policy, stay well clear of the World Wide Web Consortium's progress, or lack thereof, as they attempt to standardize DNT. Their predictions:

Some prominent websites will start supporting Do Not Track and at least one major country will attach requirements for how sites must respect DNT. Despite much discussion, there will be no US mandate for DNT and many web sites will flagrantly ignore it.

These prognostications seem to me to be unobjectionable. In fact one major website began supporting browsers' DNT flags last year: Twitter. The lack of a US mandate is also an easy call. The head of the Federal Trade Commission has signaled that he is willing to give the W3C another year to hammer out a full agreement on the exact meaning of DNT. But I believe that even another year would not suffice, and in fact that the effort will be abandoned inside of the year.

Mobile privacy

There will be at least one new Android or IOS app that blatantly violates user expectations of privacy in comparable magnitude to Path (who silently uploaded its users' full contact lists), leading to Google and/or Apple taking corrective actions in their app stores. Again, there will be legislative attention but no legislation passed.

Again this is a pretty safe bet. Mobile app developers and advertisers are pushing quite aggressively at the boundaries of what users might be expected to accept in terms of a privacy tradeoff for convenience. Surely somebody is going to overstep again soon and get caught at it.

Mobile security

Wireless carriers will get into trouble because of their failure to offer system software updates for still-under-contract Android phones. Users will be burned by security or reliability problems that are fixed in newer Android versions that the carrier fails to provide.

I view this one as a bit of wishful thinking. I too wish that carriers' power over the deployed mobile OS were diluted -- we would all be more secure. I believe they will fight bitterly against any such dilution. Apple forced it onto first AT&T, then the others in turn; they won't roll over for Google to assert more control over what they have grown accustomed to thinking of as their own OS deployments.


Massive open online courses will enroll more students and there will be some consolidation in the market for MOOC platforms. Non-profit platforms will slowly gain market share, as institutions worry about the credential-granting business models that will start to proliferate on the for-profit platforms.

I'm not sure we will see consolidation in this space so soon. That won't happen until some of the companies are making money and others are not (fast enough) -- and that situation won't develop until investors start getting impatient to monetize the millions of students signing up. The New York Times took a look at the state of monetization in the MOOC market, and the conclusion is that it may take a long time. Early investors seem to accept this.

The Freedom to Tinker blog puts forth 23 predictions in all. It's well worth your time to have a look.

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