2021 – A Year to Forget

I think most of you will agree, 2021 was a year to forget. COVID dominated headlines, and most of us have been locked down in a limited pandemic reality for most of the year. It began with a riot in Washington, DC that has developed into an assault on free speech, increased regulation, relentless manipulation and violation of our privacy embodied by COVID vaccination mandates and mobile tracking apps.

As part of my entrepreneurial journey I regularly track what’s happening in the world of technology. I take note of articles, research and opinion pieces on social media, blockchain, cryptocurrency, and decentralization – most currently reflected by the conversations surrounding the Metaverse.

Here are a few of the most interesting articles I read in 2021. I hope you’ll find them just as engaging as I did: 

WIRED – Platforms Must Pay for Their Role in the Insurrection

MIT Technology Review – Some artists found a lifeline selling NFTs. Others worry it’s a trap.

Electronic Frontier Foundation – Vaccine Passport Missteps We Should Not Repeat

WIRED –Amazon’s Dark Secret: It Has Failed to Protect Your Data

WIRED –Facebook Is Everywhere; Its Moderation Is Nowhere Close

Electronic Frontier Foundation – 553,000,000 Reasons Not to Let Facebook Make Decisions About Your Privacy 

The Atlantic – It’s All Rigged

Forbes – How Decentralized Identity Is Reshaping Privacy For Digital Identities

Spanish philosopher George Santayana reminds us that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” I couldn’t agree more. If you take the time to reflect on 2021, I am sure you’ll find a silver lining in the cloud of bad news that may just provide a reason to be optimistic about 2022.

Predictions for 2022

COVID ends and life returns to normal…kinda

Pandemic restrictions will end in 2022*. I’m putting an asterisk beside this prediction because the sad reality is that COVID will end for those of us lucky enough to live in the developed world. I live in Canada, I am doubly vaccinated (soon to be triple), and I am fed up with COVID just as much as anyone else. Pandemic restrictions will end in 2022, I will be able to travel once again and go to a restaurant without wearing a mask. 

This new normal will extend to the US, Europe, and the rest of the countries lucky enough to have the money and logistical capability to vaccinate most of their population. However, developing countries will face the reality they feared from the beginning of the pandemic: a two-tiered world. Those who are vaccinated and those who are not – or can not.

Get ready for a new international travel reality. Coronavirus vaccination will be a requirement if you wish to travel the world, and proving it will cost you more than just money. Wave goodbye to your privacy.

Inflation is real and it sucks

If you’ve ever used a slingshot, you know the feeling when pulling back on the elastic – if you pull one more millimetre, will it break? COVID has done that to us all over the past two years. In fact, it will likely be two more years before life becomes even close to normal again. We’re all ready to break out and have some real ‘in-person’ fun, and when that happens – look out!  Everything will become very expensive, very fast.

Inflation is on its way so if you have a big mortgage you might want to think small when planning your pandemic break-out. Mortgage rates will rise and you’ll need the extra money for larger payments.

Crypto will keep roaring ahead but the end is nigh

Cryptocurrency tokens like Bitcoin and Ethereum that power most of the world’s blockchain-based applications like decentralized finance and Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) will continue to gain value. Even more suckers will jump on the bandwagon to the eventual poor house. I am very disappointed over what cryptocurrency has become. 

The hype surrounding crypto masks a pump-and-dump virtual reality where new buyers pay a higher price with ‘real’ money so those holding tokens can sell and run. This is nothing but a classic pyramid scheme and pyramid schemes always fail.

Regulators are looming with rules and fines, Central Banks are looming with their own digital currencies (CBDCs), and more countries will jump on the ‘banned-wagon’ and make crypto transactions illegal. The end is nigh for cryptocurrencies and the last people in before the crash will end up holding the bag.

The battle for the Metaverse heats up

Dystopian tech nerds like me have been dreaming about an augmented or virtual reality (AR/VR) future Internet since we read Neal Stephenson’s book Snow Crash in 1992, where the term ‘Metaverse’ first appeared. The Metaverse is real and with all the money and attention being focused on it I’m sure it will become far more mainstream in 2022.

Mark Zuckerberg threw down the gauntlet when he re-branded Facebook as ‘META’ and revealed that he was going to build the Metaverse. While I think it’s nice for Zuck to pay to build the Metaverse for us, I’ll pass. And so will Elon Musk, Apple, Google, Microsoft and every other big technology company. There will be many competing visions for the Future Internet and it will be fascinating to watch it unfold.

Whether you call it the Metaverse, Web 3.0, or the Decentralized Web, the war for the future is on in 2022 and it will spill over into Digital Identity (DID), Finance (DeFi), and anything else that can be decentralized or put on a blockchain.

I’ve been talking about a decentralized future since 2018 and 2022 is the year it becomes real. However, while the battle for the Metaverse unfolds, one thing is certain. The future of the Internet is decentralized and that means there will never be any one winner.

Which is something we can certainly look forward to in 2022 and beyond.

2021 was definitely a year to forget and it’s up to you to make 2022 a year to remember.

Happy New Year!