So many things went wrong in 2009 that it's difficult to boil them down to such a short list. As one of my Facebook friends put it -- "Bye-bye '09, happy to scrape your dust off my shoes." But such is the format we all use, and so here for your viewing pleasure are the ten trends I sincerely wish would just dry up and blow away as we enter a new decade.
10. Facebook privacy alert rumors. Facebook already took our privacy away, back in 2006. What are you so alarmed about? At least read Snopes before putting out an all-caps update that Mark Zuckerberg will be selling your children's photos to white slavers. Just sayin...
9. Celebrities jumping on, and then abruptly off, Twitter. You've already got more money than God. Is it so difficult to pretend to be offering us a window into your private life by paying someone to ghost-tweet on your behalf? It's good for the global economy, and it's good for you. Plus, it makes you look dweebie to be so half-assed about it. (Chris and Miley, you know who you are...) And I for one don't want to be there when Oprah's fans lose their minds and start stampeding America's malls in search of her lost tweets.
8. Somali pirate attacks. Not only are these stories terrifying to read while eating my corn flakes, but they've taken all of the humor value out of the word "pirate." How can we laugh along with "talk like a pirate" day anymore? We can't. It's all too sick and real now.
7. Handing out $1 million bonuses to the very people who took down the global economy. First you bleed us all dry with those mortgage-backed-subprime-derivative-manipulations you dreamed up. Then you stand around with your hands out demanding cash. You know what? You folks actually belong in category number 8 above. Pirates, blackmailers, whatever you want to call yourselves... My wish for 2010 is that you all must take minimum wage jobs calculating exactly how much retirement, savings and investments you lost the rest of us.
6. Replacing beloved sci fi TV characters with actors who are barely old enough to drive a car, much less a TARDIS. It's just so unfair. And wrong. Especially for those of us who were thrilled and delighted to find a good-looking, mature hero for whom the answer to every problem--no matter how cosmically huge or dangerous--is to put on his glasses and start tinkering around with a computer. And think about it. If this trend isn't reversed, by 2020 we'll be tuning in to watch the Doctor take his first steps.
5. Pulitzer-winning journalists getting the sack. I understand that the media must change--in fact, in many ways I welcome the seismic shifts that are shaking up that industry. Check out Dan Gillmor's Mediactive book-in-progress for views that I wholeheartedly support. But this story of Pulitzer winners being laid off made me woozy with anger. The news surfaced in April, right after the year's winners had been announced, among them my fellow Red Herring alum Ali Berzon, who gutsily delved into a story of fatalities on Las Vegas construction sites. This is the kind of journalism we actually need. Meanwhile, we still have to put up with David Pogue calling these things the best tech ideas of 2009. Life, it seems, is not fair.
4. Silicon Valley panic/pullback. This trend began in Fall 2008 when Sequoia Capital announced "RIP Good Times." The venture firm known for its savvy and prescient bets on YouTube, Google, and other megahits was suddenly running for cover--demanding that startups cut costs and get cash flow positive or be cut off. The much-discussed PowerPoint, which TechCrunch dubbed the "Slide Presentation of Doom" featured such images as a gravestone, and a piece of very dead meat with a knife stuck in it to illustrate the new economic reality. (No, I'm not exaggerating. I wish I were.) As a result of this kind of thing, some say VCs are in danger of getting a "Dubya" level approval rating.The Sequoia folks weren't entirely wrong to predict that this recession could be deep and painful, but let's hope they and other backers wake up in 2010 to a new attitude--one that recognizes our Valley's special energy and innovation as our best hope for the long-term. Some VCs are already moving in that direction, seeing the potential in clean tech, green IT/storage, virtualization, social media tools and other hot segments. (And if you need help guys, see above, number 6, a geek "hero" for some guidance.)
3. Underwear bombers. Or, really any bombers carrying explosives in any of their intimate or not-so-intimate clothing. Let's hope this trend does not continue. For obvious reasons.
2. Freaking out about technology. The sky is falling ... I mean the cloud is failing! Someone might follow my movements on Gowalla and rob me. Help, I'm addicted to Twitter. Social media snake oil salesmen are out to get me. Help, I'm addicted to Facebook ... For 2010, I would love to see these and other such sentiments become like quaint fears of the past--not unlike the fears some once had that the telephone would lead to the breakdown of civility and that widespread use of electricity would encourage immoral behavior. And, dare I dream, we'll recognize the difference between reacting and overreacting. Hey, I'm an optimist.
1. And the number one trend I hope won't continue in 2010... Drunk tagging on Facebook. And with that, I raise my glass and wish you all a happy, healthy New Year.