End-of-2004 remarks, punctuated by five pictures of nothing.
Bad News · The world had a pretty lousy year, on balance. The U.S. adventure in Iraq might not turn into Vietnam, but on the hand it might just; which would be terrible no matter how mad you are at the Americans either for going in or for doing it so ineffectively.
Meanwhile, the people living under really bad governments—Iran, North Korea, Zimbabwe, Burma—didn’t see things get much better.
Well, there’s always next year; it’s hard to see how it could be much worse.
Good News · In general, the economy is looking not-too-bad; which is good for everyone. In particular, the high-tech sector where I live is ticking along quite well. Specifically, Sun looks like having a pretty good year next year.
And life on the family front is going well; work is interesting and people are generally healthy. Specifically, my brother’s beautiful little daughter came through a 7-hour brain-surgery episode with (apparently) no ill effects and the problem (apparently) resolved. Our own little guy is starting to be able to engage in an interesting conversation, and at the same time suddenly intensely interested in numbers and arithmetic.
Here’s another Daddy-moment story: he’s got this silly toy fishing rod that makes splashing and reeling-out sounds, and can catch little plastic fish (included). For a couple of weeks, the game du jour was him setting up a “fish shop”; after he’d reeled one in, he’d give it to you and you’d give him some imaginary money; I’d distract him for a second and make the fish vanish, which was great fun. One morning, just after breakfast, he set up the fish shop and asked me if I wanted some. In the spirit of the game (I thought) I said “I just had breakfast, I’m not hungry.” After a moment of silence, he walked over, confronted me, and wearing an exasperated/amused face, said “Daddy, it’s just pretend, they’re not real fish.”
Predictions · Everybody else is doing predictions for next year, why shouldn’t I?
China Will Be Interesting It’s so big that anything happening has import and impact. But its economy is starting to be central to everything, and its political structure is increasingly unsustainable. Here’s my one specific prediction: the biggest news story of 2005 will be out of China.
Web Services? Yeah, whatever. There’ll be lots more XML messages hurtling around the network, but the proportion which play the WS-* game will be about the same at the end of the year as it is now.
Dubya Will Have a Bad Year There are just too many big problems, on the fiscal and foreign-policy fronts. The current administration’s main virtue—ruthlessly staying on-message—isn’t going to be enough to do the job.
IBM Will Do Just Fine Look, the infrastructure is way too complicated for people who also have to understand business issues, and one of the few ways to deal with it is to call in Global Services. Some of us are working to make it simpler, but it’s a big slow job.
The Indian-Ocean Region Will Bounce Back Things are tough, and the tragedy will remain a tragedy, but this part of the world has a lot of energy and will probably do a reasonably good job of putting the aid to good use.
The Software Business Will be Boring Microsoft, IBM, and Oracle will go on making more money than anyone else, but only IBM has a business proposition that isn’t existentially challenged by some combination of Open Source and Web-Centricity. By the end of 2005, the holes below the waterline of software business as-it-has-been will be too obvious for anyone to ignore; but the big changes will hold off another year.
2004 Out · Thanks for listening, and for writing back, and take care of yourselves, it’s a scary world out there.