Last year at this time, NewsWorks and its radio companion, NewsWorks Tonight, introduced a new feature called “Just You Wait.”
Just You Wait offered a rundown of people, phrases and things that were not well-known as the year 2012 dawned, but were bidding to become household terms by the time the year was done.
So with 2012 now in the books, we thought it might be fun to look back and see how well Just You Wait did at predicting what the year had in store for us.
We’ll just come out and say it: Pretty darn well.
Here’s a review of the predictions, with grades:
The social networking site lets you create a visual bulletin board or scrapbook of things you like. Pinterest blew up so big in 2012 you might find it hard to believe that it was still a relative unknown on last New Year’s Day.
Pinterest’s on-line traffic grew by a 1,047 percent in Nielson’s 2012 Social Media Report. Facebook’s traffic, by contrast, declined 4 percent. Will Pinterest have staying power? Well, other reports by online marketing firms show that Pinterest users are far more likely to convert their activity on the site into online sales than Facebook users.
Consider that a sign Pinterest is here to stay.
So let’s give this prediction by health and science reporter Carolyn Beeler a grade of A+.
We’d be happier if the report on this concept in land-use planning by Radio Times producer Denis Devine had been less prescient.
But a storm named Sandy weighed in, and created devastation along New Jersey’s barrier islands. In Sandy’s wake, for the first time in decades, Shore residents are having a serious conversation about how and whether to rebuild some of what was lost.
“Planned retreat’ is concept responding to the concern that, with global climate change, the ocean is inevitably going to rise and reclaim some of those islands. So, the thought goes, instead of rebuilding dunes and breakwalls in a futile, costly effort to keep the sea from rising, government could use a moment like this one, post-Sandy, to declare some areas off limits to redevelopment. It could make a “planned retreat” by slowing moving development farther from the sea. Property owners who lost the ability to rebuild would receive compensation through easements.
No, as government policy, it’s not likely to happen in 2013, but Sandy has given the idea a fresh hearing.
Give this prediction, which seemed far-fetched to some of us when we made it, a surprising A-minus.
The ‘God particle’
More properly known as the Higgs boson, this is a subatomic particle that physicists have theorized about for decades as the key to some of the thorniest mysteries in physics. The Higgs boson has been posited as the thing that gives mass to matter; it could be a building block of the universe.
Two teams working with data produced at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland announced in July 2012 that they had found something that behaves very much like the Higgs boson. Science magazine rated it the top scientific discovery of the year.
Research continues, as the data throws off quirks, but give Carolyn Beeler another A for predicting we’d all be talking about the God particle over summer cookouts.
Some predictions are easier than others. If you follow politics the way senior writer Dave Davies does, you knew at the end of 2011 that the presidential election year would be haunted by the big-money activities of these shadowy political groups enabled by the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens United case.
As Dave explained, Super PACs are independent political committees that support a candidate with unlimited, often anonymous, donations from companies, unions, or individuals. They can’t contribute directly to a candidate, but they can explicitly support one in ads, or bash their favorite candidate’s opponent.
SuperPACs were a big factor in a record $6 billion being spent on the 2012 elections. But the jury is out on whether donors to SuperPACs got their money’s worth, as some candidates who got huge SuperPAC spending on their behalf still lost.
Give this forecast a grade of A.
OK, this one was a little like insider trading in that WHYY is a PBS station, but it still qualifies as a nailed prediction.
Downton Abbey was successful in its first season, but it wasn’t until its second season launched on PBS in the winter of 2012 that it became a breakout sensation. Predicting that Downton Abbey would become a “thing” even with video viewers who never tune into TV is worth an A.
Cutting the cord with cable
Speaking of people who watch a lot of “TV” without owning a TV or buying cable service, that growing 2012 trend was analyzed by then WHYY staffer Jen Howard, who extrapolated from her own extravagant love for her Roku box and discovered that she was part of an expanding group that would infinitely prefer not to pay Xfinity. Rate this one a B-plus.
OK, if you were a sports fan last January, you likely knew the name of this bright Stanford graduate who’d just won college football’s highest honor, the Heisman Trophy. But Luck then went on to be the top player picked in the NFL draft and to lead his formerly woebegone team, the Indianapolis Colts, to the playoffs, in the biggest single season turnaround in league history. The endorsements aren’t flowing to Luck yet, but they will, if he wants them. Give this one a B-plus.
The Hunger Games
We told you last January about a movie with a bizarre premise and an obscure actress in the lead role that might be a summer hit:
The Hunger Games ended up grossing $408 million in the U.S. alone, and Jennifer Lawrence became the year’s breakout star. Again, though, it didn’t take huge guts to predict a movie based on a teen best-seller would do well.
And we missed on Jennifer Lawrence, instead claiming Chris Evans would become the new hot name in Hollywood.
Give the movie prediction a B, and the Evans forecast an F.
We told you about Susan Cain’s new book, which build on her successes as a TED talks speaker, called “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.”
Give this prediction a suitably modest, very solid B.
The Internet of Things
The idea that this phrase captures, the idea of linking vast numbers of appliances and objects through the Internet to create “smart” systems, definitely continued to move towards realization in 2012.
But it hasn’t quite come together technologically yet, not has it hit big in the popular mind. So call the prediction by our reporter Elizabeth Fielder may have been a bit premature, and give it a friendly grade of Incomplete.
This prediction by arts and culture reporter Peter Crimmins is another one where the practice grew in 2012, but the term didn’t hit it big. “Gamification” refers to the effort to use an overlay of game play on other activities to make them more enticing or palatable. The approach is all around you – for example, rewards systems for recycling – but you may not recognize it by that name. Give this one a B-minus.
Peter Crimmins also reported that this Web site providing new content and activitites related to Harry Potter had been in prolonged, private beta testing and was due to launch in 2012. It did, in April. Within two weeks, it had more than 2 million registered users. But it has sputtered since, with some mixed reviews and some of the dreaded technical glitches. Peter was right that the launch would be big, but Pottermore hasn’t soared. Give the prediction a B.
This painstaking, aficionado’s method of getting one’s dose of caffeine definitely became a thing in 2012, as Elizabeth Fielder predicted. It just because a thing that produced as many cries of exasperation (over how long it takes and how precious it seems) as hosannas over the taste of the end result. Give it a B-minus.
The Mayan apocalypse
Peter Crimmins predicted not that the end of the world would occur, but that we’d spend a lot of time referencing the Mayan calendar in jokes. He was right. But that all seems so 2012 now, doesn’t it? Grade: B.
It’s Our Money reporter Holly Otterbein predicted that cash-strapped municipalities, particularly Philadelphia, would turn heavily to selling off long-time assets in 2012.
And, sure enough, some hardy perennials went back on the theoretical auction block. Harrisburg talked, again, about selling off the state liquor stores. And Philadelphia closed its eyes and wished really, really hard that someone would take PGW, the gas utility, off its hands. But nothing big happened. Grade: C.
Looking around at various Christmas feasts we attended in 2011, we thought this sweet treat from the Pennsylvania Amish country was about to have its moment. Turned out, it had already peaked. Grade: C-minus.
The Potter’s Field
We wondered what neighborhood issue in Philadelphia would reach the pitch of controversy and craziness that the Chelten Plaza fight in Germantown did in 2011. Community news editor Protecting a ‘potter’s field’ is focal point of development project in Germantown at a brewing fight over a plan to tear down one public housing tower and build smaller units on land that included a colonial-era graveyard for “strangers, Negroes and mulattoes.” And sure enough, arguments and archaeological investigations have dragged on for the whole year with no resolution.
But the emotional pitch of the story doesn’t equal Chelten Plaza. Grade: B.