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10 Tools You Can Use to Predict and Profit From the Future

By on August 30, 2010

I really love discovering the latest trends in online business, web development, domain names and technology. It helps me stay ahead of the competition and better understand the needs and interests of my blog readers today.

In this article I will share the tools and resources I use to take brief glimpses into the future. Using these tools, you too can gain insight into trends and make predictions about the course of your own industry.

Followed by the 10 resources I describe 6 ways you can take advantage of the data for potential profit. Enjoy!

1. Recorded Future

An amazing new service is now providing free updates on future events and trends related to any industry or topic. This brief video introduction to Recorded Future explains how you can use the service to learn about the future.

Select as many topics or as you wish and you will receive an email update for each topic either daily or weekly.

The emails feature a visual overview of the volume and scope of future events and a listing of article references.

2. Twitter

The media has embraced Twitter as an amazing source of breaking news accross the globe. If something big is happening tomorrow, it’s probably already being talked about on Twitter.

Twitter’s real-time nature makes for a great place to watch out for what’s new, emerging and promising. A visit to TweetMeme can show you what people are reading and sharing. There are also many apps and services for monitoring trends. What The Trend displays crowdsourced data on why things are trending.

Other useful services include TweetDeck which now is live streaming capable, TweetTabs live monitoring and TrendsMap local trends.

Use Twitter Lists to follow the news-makers, influencers and curators and #Hashtags to tap into global conversations.

3. Technical Researchers

Many wonderful organizations are working to analyze trends and data so that we might better understand society and the internet.

Here are some great places to start for the latest research on the internet and online business.

4. Futurists

I am a fan of Ray Kurzweil for his far reaching vision of the future (or it could be the sci-fi geek in me). His talks on the singularity event of exponential technological development make me thrilled to live in such an age of growth.

Futurists can also be a unique source of information for business in the short term. They use extensive experiences, public polling, deductive reasoning and other scientific studies to make predictions.

One futurist recently enlightened us that newspapers as we know them will be gone by 2022, to be replaced by crowdsourced journalism. This makes me excited to be on at center stage as the world discovers blogs and other homegrown online media.

5. Trend Hunters

I like to leave things to the experts in many situations. Trend hunting is no different.

The following examples are well-respected for staying on top of the latest in technology, media and more. Try to find the go-to sources for your niche.

6. Website Traffic

Arguably one of the best ways to predict the future is by viewing the trends in website traffic. This data can be found at Compete and Alexa.

Jacques Mattheij recently predicted that Facebook will overtake Google in the next 18 months using website traffic estimates.

7. Looxii Social Monitoring

While I have not had a chance to fully try out this curiously named service (I’m guessing they were going for ‘look see’), it does seem very promising as a social media monitoring tool.

With Looxii you can monitor up to 2 keywords for free and have reports emailed to you daily. The reports contain data of mentions and trends across blogs, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook.

8. PostRank Labs

The team at PostRank, which I have previously praised for their innovative new services, are showing no signs of slowing down.

PostRank Labs features a suite of amazing tools such as social trends, blog widgets, even a engagement analytics plugin for your Google Reader.

Their newest tool allows you to compare social engagement across 3 different domains.

9. Google AdWords & Insights

Advertisers bidding on keywords at Google want to know which terms will be most beneficial to them. The world’s best search engine has gone to great lengths to provide amazingly useful data for just that purpose.

Fire up the Google AdWords Keyword tool and you will see a small graph at the right of each row which represents the local search volume.

This data is particularly useful for web publishers and businesses looking to increase the effectiveness of their search optimization efforts.

Google Insights provides a one-year forecast, comparisons and notable news for multiple terms.

Lastly, I have something for you to watch out for. Google has recently acquired Metaweb and Freebase, a massive public database of virtually all types of data.

10. Bookmarking Data

I have noticed a few things having kept an eye on Delicious popular bookmarks off and on over the course of many months. Invisible trends and influences moving through the blogosphere, often at the highest levels on the most popular publications.

TechCrunch articles will cause spin-offs, one blog will counter with it’s own arguments, a popular piece (The Web Is Dead) may cause the whole internet to share their opinion. We’re all connected much more than you might think.

Other places to find out what people are reading and sharing include RedditDiggHacker News, and LikeButton.me.

6 Ways You Can Profit From Future Research

After checking out the above tools, you might be asking yourself, “How do I profit from knowing about the future?” Unfortunately, there are no lottery ticket numbers or sports scores to be had.

This is going to take some initiative and time invested, but the rewards can be great. Here are some ways I’ve come up with that you can use this information for profit.

1. Buy domain names of future products and services

As an example, I purchased HTML5Framework.com during the coding standard’s debut on the web. If I had decided to research this earlier, I could have registered countless other valuable HTML5 domain names.

Another example, RecycledFood.com; the business of turning food waste into energy and other products is growing rapidly. I registered this for a small fee and it may now be worth quite a bit.

2. Start a blog about a trending or emerging category

The sooner you begin publishing content the better, because the blogs of today may be some of the leading publications of tomorrow.

A prime example of this would be social media blogs. They are now some of the most heavily trafficked destinations on the web. One of the most popular, Social Media Examiner launched just 1 year ago and has already grown into a million dollar publication.

3. Invest in companies which show future potential

I enjoyed the following bit of information from Paul Graham, founder of startup incubator Y Combinator during a talk on the future of software and startups.

Hackers are a leading indicator of what people will be using in the future.

4. Get a head start on marketing products

Not many people know that Google TV is launching in the fall this year. I have been writing about it and sharing updates on this destined game-changer for several months now. This simple act of writing a post will give my site more authority and relevance for later coverage.

When it comes to web content and affiliate marketing, those who act first often come out as the winners as far as search rankings and eventual commission earnings.

5. Become an early adopter

Sharing all the latest news, resources and tools with your network is a great social media strategy. It also helps you learn the pulse of your industry and catalog all it’s resources.

6. Launch a startup or build the next big app

I just read this interesting bit of information recently on TechCrunch. There is a ton of opportunity for those who run ahead of the pack.

One company that has been overlooked as a potential platform for other startups to build a business on remains YouTube, which Google acquired for $1.65 billion in 2006.

Thank you for taking the time to review these tools and resources for predicting the future and my ideas for profiting from future predictions.  If you would like to suggest further resources or share your thoughts on this topic please don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

There is a world of interesting data out there with many secrets yet to be discovered and it is only going to get better.


About Mark Fulton

Mark is the Founder of DotSauce Magazine and a full time web developer, domain investor, SEO and online marketing professional residing in North Carolina, USA. Visit MarkFulton.com for information on freelance website development, SEO and consultation services.