Every time a year draws to a close you start thinking about what defining events happened and what might be in store for the coming year. For me one of the most intriguing things I noticed is not so much the emergence of web 2.0 technologies but the increasing push towards collaborative and personal environments.
I remember the days when the defining factor of browsing the internet was anonimity and a wealth information, slowly but surely this moved on to a stage where all people wanted was "web presence" and networking which gave rise to online communities which to a certain extend are still popular today.
What is noticable however that people don't generally commit themselves to a specific community or set of communities, information is everywhere and with the increasing ease of syndicating it people themselves start to take on the role of what community sites used to do and have become hubs filtering out data that is useful to them. This is also an evolution you see in the blogosphere, moving from personal diaries to an aggregator role. You could call this process the decentralization of information filtering.
Now this is where it gets interesting, what used to be simply web presence has now become an actual online persona which reflects nearly every aspect in the real world. Its difficult to even talk about real world or offline existence because the line is blurring to such an extent that online presence is becoming nothing less than an extension to your daily activities.
Here the social aspect comes into play, looking back at communities you now get more organicly formed groups of people with similar interests that interact but do so as separate entities, somewhat along the lines of creating a neural network. I believe we're only seeing the very beginnings of this coming into play but it seems to have potential to grow into a very significant phenomena.
My prediction for 2006 is that the we'll see the social aspect of the web take an increasingly important role and see new forms of it implemented in numerous web and desktop applications. The technology is there to be used and with people more than ever before using the internet as their means of interaction with the outside world this is something that will also become an essential part to the online experience.