Ok, first off, big title, I know. But I’m really, really not trying to sound pretentious here, just to garner some extra attention; nor am I trying to act like I’m some “future of the web” expert or forecaster, just to bolster my online reputation, or act like I know anything, period (though I hope I’ve learned something by now). Trust me there are plenty of those types already clouding up the blogosphere, and we probably could do without most of them! But that’s just my opinion, of course
No, rather what I’d like to do today, is kick off the “ideas” section of my blog with something my wife and I were just discussing the other night – something I’ve pondered before, but of course don’t have an acute answer to: what does the future of the web look like in this ever merging digital & physical world?
Well, as I said already, I don’t have an answer, so to speak, but today I’d like to propose a few things I’ve been thinking on, and hopefully, they line up with some of your thoughts as well. Of course, if they don’t, all the better. I’ll also try to be brief, and not diverge into some sci-fi storyline. OK? Here we go:
1) Mobile Web:
- We all know mobile web is the trend. It’s projected to explode in the next 10 years to something like 2billion mobile broadband users, worldwide. AND, with the mobile web technology increasing at the rate it’s going, we could all very well be seeing current landline speeds, flying through the air by then. Really, one questions if we’ll still need a landline in 2020 and beyond. Maybe mobile web will completely replace the “non-mobile” web someday – it’s certainly possible. However, that’s not the only thing I want us to think about here. The thing about all this great mobile technology we are seeing today, is that in 2020, it’ll all be obsolete. Thus, the most awesome 3G chip in someone’s smart phone today, will be almost worthless by then, and there will be nothing to hinder say, a cereal box, from having mobile web and communication capabilities. Maybe the picture frames on your wall automatically update themselves with the latest photos in your online photo album (updated directly from your mobile phone/computer/camera, of course). And by that logic, everything we own could transform into a web-surfing platform of 3-way interaction between you, your cereal (per se), and the rest of the world. Intriguing, but let’s move along to the next point…
- Moving in from my last point, this to me seems the next most logical thing to consider: What will our currency look like, when every other physical thing in the world is connected to the digital realm? Think about this: Facebook. (yeah, I had to bring them into this) Facebook is huge. That we know. But what many don’t know yet, is that Facebook is already testing out a form of digital currency: Facebook Credits. Yeah, and why not? They host over 500,000,000 users (again, this we all know, especially if you went and saw ‘The Social Network’ movie tonight- I did not), and you really cannot surf the web, read a blog post, or hell, even watch a series of TV commercials without at least seeing their logo plastered somewhere – and more than that, everything on the web is becoming more connected via Facebook. That’s the way Facebook wants it too. It’s certainly a phenomenon, but again, that’s what Zuckerberg and his crew are going for. Whether you’re for that, or against it really doesn’t matter at this point, it’s already happened.
Ok, so where’s the tie in here? Here it is: It stands to reason, that with mobile web becoming not only more prominent, but ubiquitous, and every physical thing having the potential to be linked up to this mobile web (without adding cost to the product as it would now), AND Facebook being more and more ubiquitous itself ON the web (hopefully you see it now) – Facebook Credits quite possibly steps up as the world’s first viable digital currency platform, with everyone and everything digitally connected, whether you have a Facebook “account” or not. AND, while Credits (which is currently in private Beta) is primarily focused on the purchase of virtual goods (ie games, apps, etc) right now, I certainly think we’ll see it move into the physical realm before it’s all said and done. Crazy? I don’t know. You tell me. In fact, here’s a great post on the impending launch of Credits, that may back me up here: http://www.allfacebook.com/facebook-credits-ramp-up-2010-01
3) Relics of the Past:
- OK, here’s my last thought, and I’ll keep it short. There is no doubt that the advent of social platforms have enabled the unfettered interaction of millions, on a scale we’ve never seen before. No doubt, the way we communicate has been changed, for good. But in 20-30, maybe 50 years from now, will anyone really remember it? (aside from in a textbook, of course) I mean, will anyone really remember the way things used to be? I believe the “elders” of our generation, ie the ones that preceded the internet and social communication (I barely fall into that category), will serve as relics of that time when people actually wrote to each other, or had to call one another to “get in touch”. When businesses used to be able make their customers jump through hoops to get some service, or could hide the truth about an inept product – facts that would spread like wildfire on the web today. When the music industry used to be run by a handful of record labels and execs who told people what to buy, and what music they liked. When you actually carried money around in your pockets or wallet - And these are just some of the things I believe are going to be relics in a future world, where the entire web is social, every interaction you have is linked to the web, you can interact with every single product you buy and every other consumer around the world who bought it too, and everything you consume and/or produce can be purchased with a more universal, digital currency.
But those are just a few of my thoughts and ideas on the future in this digital world. What say you?