I don’t know that any of us need a review of the year. I’m also not up for making predictions for next year: I just don’t know what’s going to happen.
So instead, here are some hopes I have for 2022. I don’t think they’re a sure thing by any stretch, but they’re not outside the realm of plausibility. And it’s nice to hope.
I’ve separated them into topics: Society and the World, Technology, Culture, and Personal. I’d love to read yours.
Society and the World
The end of lockdown. I think we all want this. I hope we’re able to get to a place where we can gather with our friends, spend time with our families, and live our lives without worrying about contracting or spreading a disease. To get there, we’ll need to continue to vaccinate the entire world, and hope that we don’t encounter ever more virulent strains. I don’t mind wearing a mask, but I look forward to not; I don’t mind presenting proof of vaccination, but I look forward to not.
A defense of women’s rights. The Supreme Court has the potential to effectively overturn Roe v Wade next year. Instead of that obvious step backwards, I’d love for the court to see sense (or, failing that, deliver a verdict with limited reach). Then I’d like to see us pass legislation to make sure we are never in danger of this again.
Progress on climate change. That could be (and needs to be) on multiple fronts. I’d love to see investment into viable public transport in the US: high speed rail, integrated transport, and other viable mass transit alternatives to cars and planes. But I’d also love to see more legislation - with real teeth - that forcibly curbs emissions. I’d love to see more and better renewable energy infrastructure. And it would be great to see carbon credits and trading replaced with hard limits for every business.
The decentralized web produces a non-financial killer app. I’d love to see a decentralized app that’s obviously better for regular people than a centralized equivalent. I’ve been thinking a lot about groups and discussion forums lately. In the old days, we had usenet; what would a modern, open, decentralized and peer-to-peer version of discussion threads look like? How could you incentivize multiple client apps with radically different user experiences? (If it’s not obvious already: I want to work on this.)
Technology-enabled unions. If employers want to put a stop to the great resignation, they might want to give their employees more of a voice. Unions as a concept are good for both businesses and workers. I’d love to see technology platforms that radically empower new union formation, and for business owners to embrace collective bargaining by their workforces.
The web becomes fun again. One of the things that I’ve noticed about people innovating on the blockchain is - no matter what you think about the technology - they’re having fun. I’d love to see that sense of fun return to web development as a whole. One of the problems is that a lot of our frameworks and tooling have been optimized for big, centralized businesses, and what works for Facebook probably doesn’t work for someone coding in their bedroom without the goal of building a startup. I’d love to see more easy-to-use libraries and frameworks, and for peer-to-peer style decentralization to become more prevalent through those libraries.
Integrated media. I want to read a book in bed. If I’m driving, I want to listen to the audio of that book in a way that picks up where I left off. Then when I pick up a book to read again, it picks up where the audio left off. Give me that for everything: what matters to me is the content, not the medium.
Sustainable, repairable devices. Maybe enforced by legislation. We should all have a right to repair; every manufacturer should be urged to find more sustainable process and material sourcing.
Facebook / Meta gets broken up. Facebook, Oculus, Instagram, and WhatsApp need to be separate companies. In general, I hope to see redefined antitrust, and better enforcement of it. The industry, the media, and society will be better off for it.
More weird TV. More weird art. If I’m going to be stuck inside in lockdown, I want to watch television that takes risks. Now is the time for production companies to invest in new voices and radical stories. No more beige, sanded-down entertainment designed for mainstream audiences. The same goes for art of any kind. Bring on the outsider artists and people who put their full selves into their work.
The continued death of the mainstream. We’re all weird now, and sick of manufactured popularity that seeks to shepherd us into fitting into pre-defined consumer pigeonholes. Let’s just call it. Our interests are nuanced and varied; we’re all different. And that’s great. What’s not great? Being asked to conform to some median ideal, or enjoy things that have been produced for people who do over more nuanced work. This is a trend that’s been underway for some time; I’d love to see it accelerate.
Doctor Who returns with a woman Doctor and a regular cadence. Now the door has been opened by Jodie Whitaker, I don’t think it would be right to shut it. At the same time, I’d love for Who to finally get back to a twelve or thirteen episode annual run. I don’t think it’s been able to do this consistently since Russell T Davies’s original era as showrunner.
Rest. I spent a lot of this year wishing I could just disappear for six months. I came by it honestly. Next year I don’t want to be burned out; I want to be able to show up well for the people in my life, and work on projects with energy and creativity.
Authenticity. There’s no sense in trying to perform someone else’s version of you. It’s easy to fall into that trap in every aspect of life, and I sometimes have, but it’s a recipe for unhappiness. I want to do better at upholding myself and saying no to other people’s projections and expectations when they don’t align with mine.
Space to play. I want to have the space to work on my own projects. That’s been hard to come by for the last few years, for reasons I don’t regret: primarily, helping to care for my mother. But I want to spend more time writing, and I want to spend more time working on technology projects independent from trying to make money from them. (Quite a few people have messaged me about finishing Untitled, and I promise I will.)
Community. Somehow, I need to do better at connecting with people. That’s hard to do in a pandemic. But I miss my friends, and having grown up thousands of miles away, I’ve never been particularly great at keeping up with my extended family. Everyone needs friends; everyone needs family. This dovetails with authenticity: everyone needs a community of people who mutually like and support them for them, with no agenda or projection. I really value the people in my life I can truly be myself with.
Home. I deeply hope I can go back to the country I grew up in and see my friends and hometown before the end of the year. Let’s see.