The Wrong Social Predictions

by Jay Deragon on 12/22/2011

As the end of the year approaches predictions about next year’s key social technology trends arrive from the pundits.  It as if the “mirror on the wall” reflecting the past developments turns into “fortune telling of future developments”. There are a lot of fortune tellers with different perspectives to justify their predictions and the media, both old and new, elevate these predictions and the masses stand in awe of the predictions and those that predict. Some “predictions” are called trends while the bases of the so called trends are merely opinions not founded on any statistical theory.

Entertaining and interesting said predictions or trends are nothing more than elevated opinions thanks to the “media” and those that follow it are used to propagate the entertainment as if it were fact but in reality it is nothing more than fiction. Outside the rigorous context of science, prediction is often confused with informed guess or opinion.

Predicting The Wrong Things

Dion Hinchcliffe just posted his 12 social business predictions for 2012.  Haydn Shaughnessy writes in Forbes, 4 Megatrends in Social Media and Social Business and ylou can expect the list of posted predictions for 2012 to explode through Dec and Jan. The question one might ask is are they predicting the wrong thing?Any prediction usually suggest a change. The very dynamic of all things social are changing old dynamics. The dynamics happening as a result of social technology have to do with sociology, psychology, computer science and math. In sociology and psychology there are numerous dynamics including:

  1. Group dynamics, the study of social group processes
  2. Power dynamics, the dynamics of power, used in sociology
  3. Psychodynamics, the study of the underlying psychological forces driving human behaviour
  4. Spiral Dynamics, a social development theory
  5. Social dynamics, the ability of a society to react to changes
In computer science and math the dynamics include:
  1. Dynamic data structure, a structure where the data elements may change
  2. Dynamical system, a concept describing a point’s time dependency
  3. Symbolic dynamics, a method to model dynamical systems
  4. Dynamic programming, a method of solving complex problems by breaking them down into simpler steps
  5. Dynamic program analysis, a set of methods for analyzing computer software

Any sound prediction is usually grounded in sound data assessment an analysis. In the United States alone, McKinsey research shows, the demand for people with the deep analytical skills in big data (including machine learning and advanced statistical analysis) could outstrip current projections of supply by 50 to 60 percent. By 2018, as many as 140,000 to 190,000 additional specialists may be required. Also needed: an additional 1.5 million managers and analysts with a sharp understanding of how big data can be applied. Companies must step up their recruitment and retention programs, while making substantial investments in the education and training of key data personnel.

All this being said one can conclude that most of the predictions for 2012 are not based on the assessment and analysis of big data being created by all things social. Instead most predictions are an entertaining guess. Smart social businesses do not base their decisions on entertaining guesses rather models of the future based on data.

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