July 14, 2024

2007 Predictions Scorecard

As usual, we’ll start the new year by reviewing the predictions we made for the previous year. Here now, our 2007 predictions, in italics, with hindsight in ordinary type.

(1) DRM technology will still fail to prevent widespread infringement. In a related development, pigs will still fail to fly.

We predict this every year, and it’s always right. This prediction is so obvious that it’s almost unfair to count it. Verdict: right.

(2) An easy tool for cloning MySpace pages will show up, and young users will educate each other loudly about the evils of plagiarism.

This didn’t happen. Anyway, MySpace seems less relevant now than it did a year ago. Verdict: wrong.

(3) Despite the ascent of Howard Berman (D-Hollywood) to the chair of the House IP subcommittee, copyright issues will remain stalemated in Congress.

As predicted, not much happened in Congress on the copyright front. As usual, some bad bills were proposed, but none came close to passage. Verdict: right.

(4) Like the Republicans before them, the Democrats’ tech policy will disappoint. <ionly a few incumbent companies will be happy.

Very little changed. For the most part, tech policy issues do not break down neatly along party lines. Verdict: right.

(5) Major record companies will sell a significant number of MP3s, promoting them as compatible with everything. Movie studios won’t be ready to follow suit, persisting in their unsuccessful DRM strategy.

Two of the four major record companies now sell MP3s, and a third announced it will soon start. I haven’t seen sales statistics, but given that Amazon’s store sells only MP3s, sales can’t be too low. As predicted, movie studies are still betting on DRM. Verdict: right.

(6) Somebody will figure out the right way to sell and place video ads online, and will get very rich in the process. (We don’t know how they’ll do it. If we did, we wouldn’t be spending our time writing this blog.)

This didn’t happen. Verdict: wrong.

(7) Some mainstream TV shows will be built to facilitate YouTubing, for example by structuring a show as a series of separable nine-minute segments.

I thought this was a clever prediction, but it didn’t happen. The biggest news in commercial TV this year was the writers’ strike. Verdict: wrong.

(8) AACS, the encryption system for next-gen DVDs, will melt down and become as ineffectual as the CSS system used on ordinary DVDs.

AACS was defeated and you can now buy commercial software that circumvents it. Verdict: right.

(9) Congress will pass a national law regarding data leaks. It will be a watered-down version of the California law, and will preempt state laws.

There was talk about doing this but no bill was passed. Verdict: wrong.

(10) A worm infection will spread on game consoles.

To my knowledge this didn’t happen. It’s a good thing, too, because the closed nature of many game consoles would make a successful worm infection particularly challenging to stamp out. Verdict: wrong.

(11) There will be less attention to e-voting as the 2008 election seems far away and the public assumes progress is being made. The Holt e-voting bill will pass, ratifying the now-solid public consensus in favor of paper trails.

Attention to e-voting was down a bit. Despite widespread public unhappiness with paperless voting, the Holt bill did not pass, mostly due to pushback from state and local officials. Rep. Holt is reportedly readying a more limited bill for introduction in January. Verdict: mostly wrong.

(12) Bogus airport security procedures will peak and start to decrease.

Bogus procedures may or may not have peaked, but I didn’t see any decrease. Verdict: unclear.

(13) On cellphones, software products will increasingly compete independent of hardware.

There was a modest growth of third-party software applications for cellphones, including some cross-platform applications. But there was less of this than we predicted. Verdict: mostly wrong.

Our overall score: five right, two mostly wrong, five wrong, one unclear. Next: our predictions for 2008.


  1. Ed- I’m going to have to disagree with you on the AACS one. Unless there’s been a late-breaking development, you are more or less dependent on Slysoft’s program, which is the only one that handles the latest and greatest keys, and is now far ahead of the community efforts. AACS is broken yes, but not to the degree of CSS- DVD’s are already broken before they come out, whereas with AACS that’s not the case yet.

  2. Gary Williamson says

    If #7 includes the concept of “webisodes” which were used to maintain, or generate, fan interest between seasons for a number of mainstream TV shows, e.g. – Battlestar Galactica, Lost, Heroes, then you can count this one as right also.

  3. Don’t forget to do your 2008 predictions.

    I’ll get you started:

    (1) DRM technology will still fail to prevent widespread infringement. In a related development, pigs will still fail to fly.

  4. Catty: “Edit” menu, “Preferences” option, “Content” tab, “Fonts & Colors” subsection, “Advanced” button (new window pops up), then visit all the “Size” gadgets and crank em up, including “Minimum Font Size”.

    People keep telling me that command lines are hard to use, but describing how to find config settings in a GUI to a cranky, confused user on a poor quality phone line just reminds me how far we haven’t come.

  5. It appears as if many of your predictions in the negative were correct (this will not happen), whereas the positive (i.e., this will happen) did not. In general, the former tends to be more probable than the latter.

  6. Using firefox I have the same problem. Fortunately there is ctrl + + to increase the font size to something reasonable. There are better ways to fix this buried in one of the config files, but I don’t remember how.

  7. Ed, I’m using Firefox (Linux).

    Screenshot: http://nodens.ath.cx/fttblog.png

    The comments are even smaller than the footer text!

  8. Andy Steingruebl says


    While I think you’re right about #11 as far as the public is concerned, the recent real security tests in both Ohio and California and subsequent decertification actually bodes quite well, doesn’t it?

    That is, without the public generally being interested, at least a few states have actually made some progress on this front. Whether they in the end go with DRE solutions, with or without paper trails, we’re at least on the right path towards governments taking the security of voting machines seriously. I’d say this is significant progress in 2007 and bodes well. Once they are willing to admit there needs to be scientific investigation and standards, then they are at least open to standards that improve security.

    Your thoughts?

  9. Josh,

    Which browser are you using to read this?

    It looks fine to me in IE and Firefox; and I’m using the standard WordPress font choices.

  10. Prediction #2 for 2008: Most of Ed Felten’s blog’s readers will go blind from trying to read 3-point type.

  11. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt on #7, Ed. After ABC passed on it for two seasons in a row, producers Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick (“Thirtysomething”, “My So-called Life”) decided to go ahead with production on their new series “Quarterlife” (http://www.quarterlife.com/) and distribute it online (with a promotional tie-in with MySpace, where episodes were available a few days in advance of the show’s own web site.)

    The show features a cast of professional actors and the same high production values one would expect on broadcast television (a refreshing change from most online content), and episodes were, as you predicted, chopped into bite-sized chucks rather than the traditionally longer format.

    Unfortunately the show was not received well by the critics, and they will certainly lose money on the venture (which would probably have been the case even if it had been a critical success.) Nevertheless, this is undoubtedly an approach we’ll see more of in the future, and may well be a common distribution model five or ten years from now.

  12. Re 11) Is/was there any empirical evidence of a “solid public consensus in favor of paper trails”? The last thing I saw was Dr. Norris’s survey which showed people liked the computers. Admittedly, it was from a relatively long time ago before problems about them were widely known. I have seen some polls saying people want voting to be more secure, but such a poll doesn’t say very much, particularly regarding any support for paper trails.

    That said, I think most folks involved in voting that are not elections officials or employed by vendors do not like the paperless systems. However, they are probably split on “paper trails” vs. “paper ballots”. I’ve not seen any consensus on this issue.

    I think that both are band-aid security solutions. We’ve had fraud with paper ballots in the past so I do not think adding them back in is going to be a notable improvement. No one stops and says “What are the security properties of paper?” — The only advantages are that there is more experience/knowledge out there for protecting paper based systems (I’m not claiming it is effective), and that separate paper and electronic counts could serve as an independent verification mechanism. However, to really get these benefits, you still need to do a lot of work. Unless you are prepared to do that work, which involves real security and assurance testing on the digital end and always doing a statistically significant hand count in the right way, all you accomplish is restoration of the status quo. That’s not good enough in my opinion.

  13. I think #6 is half right: there’s a lot of video on demand service available now from the TV networks, and of course they’re showing ads on those just like they do on regular TV shows. The part that’s wrong is that it’s not some amazing new thing and nobody got rich, it’s just a continuation of the standard technique for video advertisements taken to a new medium.

  14. David Robarts says

    #12 – the latest air travel restriction is on lithium batteries; however, it is not a bogus anti-terrorist restriction. The restriction is because if the batteries ignite in quantity, the fire suppression systems would be inadequate. So air travel restrictions continue to rise, but the latest addition is reasonable and based on a real threat.

  15. Ray Sondetre says

    Prediction for 2008:

    (1) Ed Felten will learn how to use italics in HTML.

  16. Lewis Baumstark says

    While I’d probably agree you got #7 wrong, progress was certainly made on that front. NBC has a pretty decent YouTube-ish service for watching their shows (not having cable or decent over-the-air reception, it’s the only legal way I can get my “Heroes” fix).

    I think the prediction itself is still valid (and inevitable), it’s just taking longer than you expected.

  17. #7 – If you don’t have kids the right age you probably missed iCarly (http://www.icarly.com/). I’d say you got it right.