2021 Prediction #3: Get ready for more GameStops as hedge funds are no longer the only bullies in town

Sorry I got my puts and calls mixed-up in the e-mail version of this column. It should now be fixed. My 16 year-old copy editor says he won’t make that mistake again. — Bob

Today is my birthday. Thirty-five years ago today I was drinking coffee in my Palo Alto kitchen when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded on TV. Thirty years ago today my father fell over, instantly dead of a heart attack while walking between gates in the American Airlines terminal at DFW. I was expecting a call, just not that one. Life is full of surprises and some of them aren’t good, as hedge funds are learning this week while their […]

2021 Prediction #2: Peak Facebook as Zuck runs out of role models

If 2020 was a Trump- and Covid-inspired year of social media excess, 2021 can’t help but see some reversion. But it’s more than that, with big Internet companies coming under greater regulatory scrutiny worldwide, especially Facebook and Google. This year is going to be a tough one for Mark Zuckerberg, especially. And while I don’t expect Zuckerberg to abandon his CEO job this year, he eventually will, simply because it isn’t as much fun as it used to be and there will come a point (maybe in 2022) when leaving the top job will help Facebook’s stock.

At this moment there’s reportedly a bot operating on Telegram selling for $20 or less the […]

2021 Prediction #1: Trump will do fine without Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

I’m no Trumper. This prediction has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with how social media actually works. Following the U.S. Capitol riot of January 6th, President Trump was bumped from nearly all social media, even YouTube, with many of those changes subsequently made permanent. These moves led to speculation that Trump would be hobbled without his beloved accounts, his immediate impact on public discourse muted without the ability to tweet. While this may be true in the very immediate sense, it won’t last. Even Trump, the technical luddite, will figure it out and roar back shortly with or without those accounts.

This prediction is very similar in thinking to a […]

Bob’s 2021 Tech Predictions: What a Difference a Pandemic Makes

This is when I typically generate a list of technology predictions for the coming year. The challenge this year isn’t coming up with predictions, it’s finding a moment of calm to share them when people are most likely to read. With a pandemic rolling along and the nation in political and economic crises to boot, such a moment of clarity isn’t likely to ever arrive, so I’ve decided just to write the damned columns and see what happens.

This is the column in which I’ll review my predictions from 2020 to see how I did and whether it is even worth your while to read further. Having done this for over 20 years, historically […]

Three Mile Island Lessons for COVID-19: FEMA and Me

Forty-one years ago this summer I was a young investigator working in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and Washington, DC for the President’s Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island, a big federal investigation chaired by Dartmouth Professor John Kemeny, who is best known as the father of the BASIC programming language. I learned a lot that summer and fall not only about nuclear accidents but about how governments and industries respond to crises. Some of those lessons apply to the current COVID-19 pandemic, which is also being poorly managed. This may surprise you (that 41-year-old lessons can still apply) but governments, especially, change at a glacial pace.

The two […]