What does the future of energy look like in the 21st century? Which elements will remain the same? Which emerging technologies might reinvent how we look at energy? Most importantly, how quickly might things change?
Dear Future Blogger Readers,
In case you haven’t already clicked on the new button in our right-hand column, MemeBox.com, Your Forum for the Future, is proud to point you in the direction of The Energy Roadmap. Edited by energy industry futurist Garry Golden (who we’re thrilled to have officially join the MemeBox team), the new blog/site focuses on the most disruptive ideas poised to transform the energy industry over the next decade and beyond.
“The Energy Roadmap aims to bridge the gap between emerging energy technology and deeply rooted accelerating change,” says MemeBox CEO Jeff Hilford, “Garry’s professional background in energy and futures studies will open up new conversations on the future of energy. We are very pleased to add his unique voice to the mix.”
The sheer scale of the energy industry means that most changes will happen gradually, but the sector is not immune to the power of disruptive technologies, accelerating change and entrepreneurial business models. The Energy Roadmap seeks to place these dynamics into the proper context around some of the biggest ideas shaping the future:
- Role of carbon pricing schemes
- Impact of nanoscale materials science and engineering
- Role of biology in energy production and carbon utilization (e.g. algae biofuels)
- Energy storage and distributed power generation (e.g. micro-power, on-site power generation)
- Role of software and power management systems for ‘smart grids’
- Evolution of the Hydrocarbon Industry (coal, petroleum and natural gas)
- Next generation renewables, nuclear, wave, geothermal, and beyond
- Reducing energy intensity of industrial processes (e.g. chemicals, agriculture, materials manufacturing)
- Growing influence of venture capital and energy entrepreneurs
“Energy has become synonymous with the future,” points out Garry Golden, Editor of The Energy Roadmap, “Global demand for energy will double in only a few decades. Incremental improvements will simply not be enough to meet increasing expectations for clean and abundant energy. And we expect disruptive energy systems to emerge from the convergence of new science, technology and business models. The Energy Roadmap is the first blog explicitly devoted to this structured debate about the future of energy.
In a previous post I examined Six Industry Perspectives of the Future of Blogging. To build on these, here's a list of less frequently discussed environmental trends and potential disruptors that may also play a big role in the evolution of the field:
1. The LAW of ACCELERATING RETURNS: Yes, the costs of various blog-related technologies are dropping quickly, but you may be surprised by how fast this is occurring across pretty much all fields. Ray Kurweil's Law of Accelerating Returns is a nice umbrella paradigm for the lightning fast pace of innovations in areas such as computing (doubling every 18 months - Moore's Law), interface (high-end screens approach human visual reality by 2015 - Smith's Law), image capture (affordable Flip cams now come in HD), search (Google's database steadily returning better results for longer queries), speech-to-text translation (Dragon's high-end software already is 95% accurate. Among other things, Google's database of audio search queries will help accelerate this.) , etc. Though Kurzweil's Law may flatten out at some point, there are enough amazing developments on the immediate horizon to plan for a crazy decade that thoroughly transforms blogging.
2. EXPONENTIAL DATA: Parallel to technology, the total amount of data on the planet is growing at an exponential rate. Much of this can be attributed to the growing number of sensors and input devices (linked by the expanding web) that permit people to post more information online. If this trend is to continue, it's highly likely that it will be supported by a massive increase in blogging by humans.
3. QUANTIFICATION: As data proliferates, humans are incented to sort it all into meaningful knowledge. Much of this is accomplished by piecing together systems representations of different environments, locations, historical events, technologies, and human behavior. As it becomes more widely recognized that such quantification is economically rewarded, it's likely that much blog output will be structured to fit into such models (it already is - ie Wikipedia).
A blog (a contraction of the term "Web log") is a website, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order. - Wikipedia
To me, this definition is synonymous with the regular output of thoughts by a human brain to the web, organized by date, which means that blogging is really just a faster way to share ideas. As such, it marks a critical developmental step in our collective ability to process knowledge. And it is far from static.
As blogging spreads, the blog industry is also transforming due to evolving technology and market forces. These include a steady influx of ad dollars, more intelligent software and search, and faster computers, to name a few.
When contemplating the future of blogging, it's important to consider 1) informed industry perspectives on the topic, 2) environmental trends, and of course 3) the fundamental socio-economic role of blogging.
To start, here are some of the widely acknowledged visions of what's next for blogging:
BIGGER AD PIE, LOWER AVERAGE RATES: Morgan Stanley Web guru Mary Meeker has assembled data indicating that both ad impressions and the total value of the web ad market are experiencing strong growth, which is unsurprising as the world grows more intermeshed and more people start blogging. At the same time, she expects the average price of such ads to drop as inventory (# of websites and blogs) grows. These trends reflect the fact that more bloggers are making money through generic ad serving apps such as Adsense, ValueClick, AdBrite and Project Wonderful, but that the serious cash is being made by content publishers who reach niche population segments with smarter, focused content that can be paired with highly targeted ads. This seems quite reasonable and natural as content proliferates and redundancy increases.
CONSOLIDATION of the FITTEST: Michael Arrington, currently the #1 blogger on Earth, is working hard to build out his Tech Crunch blog network according to the assumption that, "The only way to compete with CNet [king of the top-down blog networks] in the long run is to group [proven] writers together. They should be better writers than CNet has because they are all competitive entrepreneurs with a lot of equity at stake.” (Bits Blog) Viewing things from the inside-out, Arrington backs the notion that a specific type of worker (the natural born output super-hero) with a specific voice will dominate the near-term future of blogging as they band together through formal corporations.