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Quora Answer : How can I predict future technological trends in web application development?

Nov 28, 2016

Follow more technical news sources. Don't just follow the mainstream media ... or even tech. popularizers like Wired and TED.

But follow science journals and computer science conferences on YouTube, identify and follow actual researchers who blog rather than professional bloggers who are just news aggregators. Obviously follow some of these news services too ... but mainly to identify new areas you then want to go deep into, then look for the real people in that area.

It's hard to keep track of everything .... you'll never be on top of all trends ... but pay attention ... get a diversity of sources (and opinions) and try to cross-reference ... put together ideas ... if there's a new language that people are excited about. And you see people are excited about, say, Big Data ... have a look what's happening with Big Data in that new language. Does the language have anything special for Big Data? Is anyone producing a cutting edge framework for it?

Paradoxically ... learn some computer science history too. There are many good ideas in the past of computer science and sometimes they suddenly come back. There's often a pendulum ... the trend is to do things in the client ... then the pendulum swings and everyone is excited about the server again ... and just as suddenly it can seem a new idea or protocol or framework allows things to move back to the client and everyone's talking about the client again.

Understand these pendulums : client <-> server, rich <-> simple, distributed <-> centralized, structured <-> free-form, general purpose <-> customized / specialized ... etc. Once you get that general principle, many new fashions suddenly become easy to understand. NoSQL was a swing from structured + centralized data-storage to free-form + distributed. BitCoin is a swing in currency from centralized to distributed. OTOH, the new hosting giants like Amazon's AWS and Microsoft's Azure are a swing from distributed hosting back to centralized (for the customer). But inside the hosting, containerization and microservices are a swing from general purpose servers to customized / specialized. Etc.

Finally, understand the kinds of applications people want to build. What their strengths are and what their weaknesses are. Facebook dominates social networking because of huge lock-in. Centralizing all users in a single social network was very beneficial (everyone knew they could find their friends on FB). Now that centralization is becoming a problem : it raises privacy concerns. It's much easier for government to grep everyone's social behaviour if it's all in one place. So maybe the pendulum will swing back towards distributed social sites ...

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