Saturday, December 22, 2007

2008

Today I wrote "2008" in the present tense for the first time. Actually, I was simply writing my postdated January apartment rent check in advance so that it would be ready to drop off on January 1, 2008 without any additional effort, but still it gave me a little pause. The good news is that unlike every past year I can remember, I did not automatically write the old year without thinking. This is a very little progress on one front in my life, but at least it was progress. The real point is that this simple act caused me to start to contemplate what kind of year it would be. Would it simple be a rerun or extension of 2007, a great year, a terrible year, simply mediocre, or a solid-C "okay" year? I am thinking the latter, but who knows.

Sure, there are a lot of highly predictable "events" that will occur in 2008, especially given that it is a presidential election year where a non-incumbent is guaranteed to be elected. Sure, the precise outcome is not known, but when all of the predictable dust settles, how much of a surprise will any of it really be? Your personal predictions may end up being far off base, but you will probably be able to say, at least to yourself, "Yeah, a missed that one, but I could have guessed it anyway."

I would like to come up with some predictions for 2008, and probably will, but right now I am drawing a blank. I know that I will come up with some finance and economic-oriented "predictions", and political predictions are as easy to offer as shooting fish in a barrel, but I am definitely stumped as to some out-of-the-box predictions that do not sound totally lame.

That at least suggests a category of activity that I need to engage in over the remaining days of the year: start packing up the mindset of the Year 2007 and begin placing it in mental "storage" and clear the mental deck to make room for at least trying to think freshly about the coming year.

Actually, here are a few questions related to thinking freshly about 2008 that just popped into my head:

  1. What trends are declining and unlikely to influence events in 2008 as much as in recent years?
  2. What trends are rising in strength and likely to more strongly influence events in 2008?
  3. What big problems or looming crises could demand bold solutions in 2008?
  4. What current problems and perceived crises of the past months could quickly peter out and not divert as much attention, energy, and resources as in 2007?
  5. How many influential and active Baby Boomers may be retiring in 2008, enabling the rise of new talent?
  6. How many Generation Y and young New Millennials may jump onto the national stage and begin to exert influence, either as individuals, organizations, businesses, work forces, or simply collectively as demographic shifts that draw power away from the constituencies that dominated 2007?
  7. What categories of new products and services could suddenly change the way large numbers of people think about a lot of things, and in ways that did not occur over the current year?
  8. Will evidence of global warming and climate change accelerate and dominate political, economic, and social discourse, or decelerate and recede from being a perceived "crisis"?
  9. Will the Middle Class continue to shrink and die off or will there be a resurgence fueled by service-based employees getting big enough raises and hiring enough new employees and housing prices falling enough that we start to see a hint of the rise of a New Middle Class.
  10. Will we see growing cynicism and pessimism or a resurgence of optimism?

Hmmm... I still don't have any bold predictions to make.

One thing that I am looking forward to very much is reading the many answers to the Edge Annual Question for 2008 that comes out online on New Year's Eve. The responses are always filled with a lot of great insight and provocation. The Edge Question for 2007 was What are you Optimistic About?

-- Jack Krupansky

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