The guy Gov. Paterson picked to run the MTA is an old new face. He was great for the MTA when he was there in the 1980s, and since then he has worked all over, including in London where he was instrumental in implementing the Oyster smart cards. This is probably a really good pick, and it is likely the beginning of the end for Metrocards. This is potentially good for congestion pricing, too.
I now suspect the NYC MTA will switch to smart cards in the next few years, but who knows if the cards will be used to their full potential (a good thing) or if they will just be an expensive way to do what Metrocards do now (that's a bad outcome).