Thanks largely to the Internet, long-standing monopolies and power imbalances are being challenged as more people from more regions of the world connect, collaborate, and compete on the global stage. Young digital natives everywhere are questioning the historic traditions of venerable institutions such as the university, the newspaper, and the entire apparatus of representative government. The pace of this change is quickening, as we now operate on Internet time.

Below are the most important trends and developments I foresee in the coming year. (Revised Jan. 18) I welcome your comments. Do you agree with my forecast? What have I missed?

1. The crisis deepens. Rather than just an economic downturn, more people will recognize that we’re entering an era of profound change. The industrial economy and many of its institutions are reaching the end of their lifecycles — from newspapers and old models of financial services to our energy grid, transportation systems and institutions for global cooperation and problem solving.

2. We’ve entered a new period of Global Risks. We are moving into an age where profound threats are emerging to the global economy, society and even the very existence of humanity. Failure of the financial system, weapons of mass destruction, new communicable diseases, collapse of environmental systems, water security and many other threats make the world a volatile place. Leaders unite to build a Global Risk Response System.

3. Worldwide generational conflict will grow. Around the planet young adults are asserting themselves in the workplace and in political arenas. Protests against entrenched governments are increasing in frequency and severity.

4. Media upheaval will intensify. Newspapers will continue to collapse, replaced by networked news models. The Huffington Post is just the beginning. More of the music consumer’s dollar will go into the pockets of artists and less to the music labels. The industry will awaken to the need to sell music as a service rather than a product. TV will continue down the path of becoming simply another app on the web.

5. There will be an upsurge in entrepreneurial activity.
In the US and other countries unemployed knowledge workers, especially young people, will start their own businesses or work under personal services contracts. The internet enables small companies to have the capabilities of larger companies without the main liabilities.

6. The “app revolution” peaks showing signs of decline. Developers, faced with so many platform choices and limitations of proprietary apps start to look to HTML5 for mobile web development. Rather than writing applications to run on separate mobile operating systems, developers will return to the uniformity of web sites accessed through browsers.

7. The Age of Hyper Transparency becomes clear. Right now it’s the US government, but WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says private-sector companies are next, starting with the financial services industry. So if your corporation is going to be naked — and you really have no choice in the matter — you’d better be buff.

8. There will be a social media privacy backlash. With the meteoric rise of social media, we are increasingly willing accomplices in undermining our own privacy rights. Privacy is the Achilles Heel of sites such as Facebook.

9. The battle over net neutrality will explode. Internet Service Providers will continue their campaign to charge premium prices for certain kinds of content, while content providers will want all Internet traffic treated fairly. The biggest confrontations will be in the wireless realm.

10. Two technologies – Enterprise Collaboration and Geospaciality come of age. Foursquare was just the beginning. Get out your Google goggles and Layar Reality Browser and augment your reality. The physical and digital worlds are converging. Companies finally begin to move beyond electronic mail, document management and other primitive technologies to new collaborative Suites like Jive and Spaces.

Please share your thoughts.