Happy New Year! It’s the time of the year when everyone is optimistic. When we reevaluate who we are and what we’re doing and almost universally decide that it is not good and it must change. But still, no one says, “this time next year, I’ll be fatter, uglier and make less money”. We all assume next year will be better. It’s also the time of year that pundits publish lists of the great things that happened last year and predictions of the even-greater things that will happen this year. Sure, you occasionally get a Gloomy Gus like this guy, but for the most part predictions are positive and exciting and we are filled with the wonder and possibility of things to come. I’m here to tell you that this year all of the predictions you’ve read, the increased dominance of social media, the new must-have gadgets, and the “I cant believe I was ever able to get any work done at all before I installed these” super-productivity tools, will all come to pass. More or less. Ok, they won’t all exactly come true, but they will all be true in one sense – and here’s where I go out on a limb and make my big prediction for 2011 – this time next year the technology landscape, from gadgets to games, corporate to consumer, will have somewhat changed. What? Not the revelatory prognostication you were hoping for? On the contrary, this is the most exciting news you can imagine. This time next year the techno-verse will either be slightly different than it is today, or wildly different than it is today, but it will not be exactly as it is today. In the face of the CorpTechPocalypse (it is going to happen), this is the single greatest reason for geek optimism. If you are a member of the Tribe Geek, or the Clan Nerd, or (for those fans of Science Friday) the Peabody Gang, then you, my friend, are a Changeling. We live on change. We thrive on change. We are agents of change, explainers of change, and advocates for change. We are change dealers in a world of change junkies. Technology is the medium of change and Changelings are the high priests and priestesses of technology. It is our ability to innovate and our willingness to adapt to change that sets us apart from the rest of the population and makes us indispensable to those who desperately crave change, but are so frightened of it. And this is not a new phenomenon. We are directly descended from the prime geek, Australopithecus Geekerensis, who was the first hominid to slam a rock onto a nut to open it. She didn’t keep this information to herself, she shared it with the less change-loving members of her troupe and soon they were all cracking nuts with a rock. Eventually a younger, somewhat socially awkward, adolescent discovered that placing another rock below the nut before the slam was even more effective. He too shared his discovery with the tribe and the cycle of change had begun with the advent of technology. Bigger brains, better posture and iPads all follow from our proto-geek’s initial fearlessness in the face of change. So my reason for optimism in 2011? It will be different than all the years that came before and the need for Changelings will be greater than ever, in fact, the need for Changelings will never diminish. In the future we may be reallocated or redistributed. We may work for different companies or in different industries. We will most likely be doing something in the future that we can’t even imagine right now. But our particular skill set will always be needed. We are Change. We are Legion. And now that most of our social interactions can be accomplished online, we are finally ready to take over the world. Happy 2011!

Photo of Ryan McClead Ryan McClead

Ryan is Principal at Sente Advisors, a legal technology consultancy specializing in innovation strategy and cross-platform solutions and support.  He has been an evangelist, advocate, consultant, and creative thinker in Legal Technology for more than 15 years. In 2015, he was named a FastCase 50 recipient, and in 2018, he was elected a Fellow in the College of Law Practice Management. In past lives, he was an Innovation Architect, Knowledge Manager, a Systems Analyst, a Fashion Merchandiser, and Theater Composer, among other things.