The present future  AUG 09 2005

Perhaps this is impossible or unfair, but can we have a discussion about where technology and user experience on the web are headed without using any of the following words or concepts:

Ajax, web services, weblogs, Google, del.icio.us, Flickr, folksonomy, tags, hacks, podcasting, wikis, bottom-up, RSS, citizen journalism, mobile, TiVo, the Long Tail, and convergence.

That all seems like the present and past, not the future, no? "Web 2.0" arrived a year or two ago at least and we're still talking about it like it's just around the corner. What else is out there? Anything? (Note: This is not an attempt to bring the current "is it really Web 2.0?" discussion (I could care less) here. I'm genuinely interesting in what's out there, if anything.)

Read more posts on kottke.org about:
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There are 104 reader comments

Patrick Haney14 09 200512:14PM

I'm still waiting for the time when the line between desktop applications and web applications becomes blurred. I keep hearing about it, but I've yet to see any hint that it'll happen in the near future.

Ryan Guill14 09 200512:14PM

I noticed you are missing one technology from your list: Flash.

I believe the future in the next couple years is going to be dominated mostly by people using all of those words in new and inventive ways, but not really coming up with all that much new things. I believe the majority of technology is going to be focusing more and more on us moving from a desktop intrinsic environment to a web or network intrinsic invironment. Think about all of the applications you use and install on your computer now, and then imagine having all of that on the web instead, saving millions in software costs for the company themselves and then for the user, always having the most current and stable version of software available and knowing the entire population of customers are using it. Imagine only needing a hard drive for cookies and caching.

Also I think the eventual merger of adobe and macromedia is going to change the webscape as well. I am definately staying tuned to it as well.

Mark Hurst16 09 200512:16PM

I've always considered the user experience to be mostly about the holistic experience, not the tactical set of tools and technologies...

...and (on the business side) about the strategy the company has in offering something good to its customers, not in the tactical colorscheme-and-logo elements that some companies consider to be their "branding."

So - I agree, Kottke - keep the discussion about the high-level experience, not about what software or buzzwords people are using today. (Warning: it's not as hip or cool this way, but you do get a lot more accomplished.)

Andrew Knott22 09 200512:22PM

Can we add intrinsic,holistic and webscape to the list?

Alexandre25 09 200512:25PM

The future does not come with new technology, it comes with new ideas. There is lots of great new web technology out there. People just need to think of new creative ways to utilize it.

For example: iPod is more an ideological breakthrough than it is a technological breakthrough.

New technology is pointless if there's not a good use for it.

Matt Dennis27 09 200512:27PM

I agree, you have to go to a higher level. Buzzwords only distract from the overall social impact. Think of the web in terms of other technologies that have brought people closer together: movable type, radio, TV. Each new technology brought people closer to distant information, through printed word, voice, and pictures. The web brings us closer to even more types of information--and outside the constraints of time.

But there is also a key difference between the web and its predecessors. Other technologies only allowed us to receive. The web allows us to transmit. This leaves us with two possible worlds:

1) Where people form communities of like minded individuals with the same interests (think Eastern Standard Tribe).

2) Where everyone spends so much time talking that no one listens to anyone else.

Chad31 09 200512:31PM

Rich Internet Applications (RIA) aren't new, but Macromedia and others are doing some interesting stuff to bring better user experiences to the web. Macromedia Flex is especially interesting, since developers that don't know the inner-workings of Flash will still be able to create a Flash interface.

Of course, none of this changes anything. Still just a site with a slightly slicker interface.

For me, podcasts have recently added a new way to experience life on the web. The future, as I see it, isn't about where I go, but what comes to me.

Philipp Lenssen36 09 200512:36PM

Just brainstorming here:

- natural speech input
- web office more popular than MS Office
- ultra-realistic, auto-generated, customizable, web-based 3d porn
- global brain emerging (natural intelligence being born on the web)
- richer forms in terms of interface, allowing true web apps like Photoshop Online to emerge (may need to start out as proprietary browser extensions in IE8 to then be adopted by W3C -- I'm not talking about XForms)
- return of attempting to standardize 3d world languages (CSS-3D, HTML-3D, whatever)
- YourBlog.KottkeEmpire.com, where Jason pays other bloggers to go full-time
- true editing capabilities built right into the browser, as it was meant to be (an HTML page as Word-like document)
- fragrances on web pages (CSS media type "olfactory")
- web based browser (the browser itself a web application, with only a minimum framework provided by the OS)
- a bunch of new acronyms, some of them which will be forgotten after a while
- 3d printing, web pages that offer objects to pay & download
- Flash 9 with more crazy effects, real-time 3d, and everything else you'd ever want
- more W3C standards that are too hard to understand for average developers, and aren't explained well on the W3C homepage

Dan Diemer39 09 200512:39PM

how about a web based operating system?
i'm sure at somepoint we'll see it.

all hail the omni-matrix.

Ramanan41 09 200512:41PM

I find bloggers are particularly web-centric, assuming that all future inovation will some how be tied to data moving over HTTP connections.

Jason Coleman41 09 200512:41PM

I would expect the future of technology to be moving away from elements that serve as a means to a much more results oriented approach. In terms of peoples computing experience, it will vanish. The ideas of creating a file or opening an application will be less representative of what we are doing than the overall task. For example, if I want to write an article, I will do it as though that is my end, not the creation of a rich text file. I'd say we're somewhere in the middle of this, so this example is somewhat muddled. But think about group collaboration (buz word warning), and then maybe it makes more sense. We gather in a room and start working on a task, each in our own way, and the end result is an article (or song, or widget, whatever). There's little to no focus on getting the individual instruments to sync properly or keeping files straight. That mundane task is handled by the technology, freeing the people to concentrate on the creative aspects.

On a related idea, as this isn't necessarily computer technology, in the construction industry, there is a similar movement toward away from prescriptive building codes to a performance based approach. The requirements are left far more open ended (i.e. - human safety and comfort, sustainable design, etc.) and the details are then up to the engineers and architects to decide.

Eventually, people will not be so concerned about which operating system, which application, which file format. We can concern ourselves with what it is we really want to be doing, which isn't always trying to understand the inner workings of our computers.

Brian Van47 09 200512:47PM

What do all of those words have in common? Okay, vague question, but here's one thing to put a fine point on it: Organizing and efficiently distributing information, data, and content. That's what it all comes down to.

There are lots of things that the Internet and computers are each used for that have nothing to do with those things, but those applications are limited to academia and R&D. Taking a cue from what is currently hot in those fields, I've got your next place to look:

Technorati.

Which is not to say that THEY themselves are the future, but instead, Web 3.0 will be the product you get when you do statistical analyses on Web 2.0 content/metadata to get a refined or novel product.

Unlike an RSS aggregator, the next big thing will actually take for you a list of feeds and provide interesting results based on filters and experience. Or, someone will be able to provide better services to businesses and consumers by expanding on the simplistic search capabilities currently included with the various types of tagged content. In any case, advanced forms of analysis - and the use of computer systems to automate it - will continue to yield viable and healthy product innovations.

Yeah, I have to go drink bleach after using all those buzzwords.

Max47 09 200512:47PM

I think we're going back to terminal server days.

Its full circle if you ask me (maybe even punch cards will be involved, hopefully no green (or orange, blue, etc) monitors though).

Web 0.0 here we come.

Jason Rossitto53 09 200512:53PM

Maturity and utility. Apps like housingmaps.com (the only really useful thing to come out of the google maps hacking mini-craze accept google maps itself IMHO) have shown the power of the internet to combine existing resources to create something new and powerful. We need more of these homebrew marriages and I think/hope that more will bubble up.
I'd really like to see some kind og blogger.com/google mapping mash-up. A group of people who all annotate and comment on one map.
Also a google map powered meet-up or road tripping site. A message board paired with personalized directions for each member of the meet-up.
Wouldn't have to be complicated, just some simple utility. The simpler the better. That way there's no limit to the number of ways it can be used. (although I'm already imagining illicit drug deals and desert raves) With something like that it wouldn't be long until the first contagious internet meme (buzzwords!) thats tied to a location. You could have crowds spontaneously popping up all over the place! There's no logical limit to the fun you could have with that.

jerry jeff59 09 200512:59PM

One way of approaching this discussion might be finishing the statement... "It's 2005 and it's hard to believe believe that I can't..." (or "still have to" or "they don't have"). Like - I can't believe I still have to cut and paste URLs all the time.

Adam Trachtenberg00 09 2005 1:00PM

Firefox, XUL, GreaseMonkey.

gsh04 09 2005 1:04PM

Customer mental models of products and/or services as the experience--developing sites (though not in the way we understand them now) which adapt and are sensitive to the unique attributes of each customer, that anticipate needs (or better yet, desires), that don't make customers seek out what they want. Shopping for a car when you want one (extra $$ available) versus when you need one (the jalopy up and died) are and need to be represented as different experiences. Now, we just have to figure out how to do this.

Alexandre07 09 2005 1:07PM

Why is e-commerce so hard?

Jer08 09 2005 1:08PM

Degradable interfaces...the more you use it the more wear it shows. Why does everything have to look like it has never been used? Give me hard edges that become blunt, rounded corners that get shiny, labels that wear off.


Max11 09 2005 1:11PM

e-commerce is so hard because most net users were fed with the everything is free on the web model. We need to be weaned off that. The next generation will be the true believers in e-commerce.

Winter12 09 2005 1:12PM

Many of the changes will be as a result of orders-of-magnitude increases in scale of networks, storage and processing power. These will change the way we look at the world. What will happen when we have lowcost 100 gigabyte/sec lines to our homes, petabytes of storage and petaflops of processing power?

People will be able to record every moment of there lives from birth to death at high fidelity. How will that change how we think of our memories if we're able to go back and review in exquisite detail every childhood encounter, etc.?

jkottke17 09 2005 1:17PM

I agree, you have to go to a higher level. Buzzwords only distract from the overall social impact.

For a, uh, counterpoint to this, see the latest in a long line of posts by Dave Winer complaining about people not using the term RSS.

Erik19 09 2005 1:19PM

I mostly travel in medievalist circles, but it'd be great to have a tool with which to annotate/edit digitized manuscript pages directly (i.e., not through some sort of overlay or just in metadata).

Joshua Porter21 09 2005 1:21PM

Don't worry about people living in the past, using old words. It's the ideas that are important. It's how they (we) learn. And for some, this stuff is still around the corner... Relax. Watch. Enjoy.

Openness.

The ability for folks to make things using open services that devalue corporate, proprietary silos of information immediately.

The ability for folks to conduct and aggregate their own research of topics that devalues government propaganda immediately.

After we realize that openness is key not only to something better but the key to survival, we'll see great things. Great things similar to the ones we already have: Internet Archive, Wikipedia, and HousingMaps.

kevin.21 09 2005 1:21PM

Ahh... here's my dream for the future: consistent development standards. Can you imagine how much more would be possible if we simply didn't have to worry about coding for different browser types or operating systems. Listen, I said it was a dream, okay? ;)

jkottke22 09 2005 1:22PM

Degradable interfaces...the more you use it the more wear it shows. Why does everything have to look like it has never been used? Give me hard edges that become blunt, rounded corners that get shiny, labels that wear off.

I love this idea. A couple of years ago, I was going to launch a design for kottke.org that changed the more you used it. First time users get new graphics but someone who's visited the site 50 times gets a less "branded" version, the idea being that someone who's been here 50 times knows where they are and doesn't need any big logo or anything, just the info they're after.

PhilipJ25 09 2005 1:25PM

It is my opinion that we are saturating limits of what computers on the internet can do. The whole point of the internet is connectivity, and the medium though which this happens is rather inconsequential. The difference between sharing photos from your personal site vs Flickr is zero in every way _except_ throughput. Flickr is a more efficient way of sharing and searching through photos. Google News is a better way to find out about news than visiting each news site on their own. Wikis make it easier for communities of people to get a sophisticated project going, etc.

Mark my words, it is the efficiency of all the things we already do on the internet that will continue to be the "innovation" for the forseeable future. In my own field (science), the same thing is true. The protein databank for protein crystal structures, the arXiv for preprints to journal articles, etc, aren't different from what we've always done, they're just an easier way to do things.

Donnie Jeter27 09 2005 1:27PM

If I may add a few words to the list:
Butter, Live Strong, fall into the Gap, WMD, WWJD and Baby on Board.

Jim33 09 2005 1:33PM

I am sure that somewhere down the road the computer is going to be synonymous with the internet and vice versa. We keep talking about the two blurring, but they will become one and it is slowly happening. Unplug your computer from the outside world and watch how your productivity declines. I, as well as many others, see the "internet" moving from an application type environment to one of that as a platform that all things are based off of. Thus rendering us back to the days when we used terminals instead of desktop pc's. Centralizing software and data would cut costs dramatically and mulitiply the power of shared resources exponentially.

vaska36 09 2005 1:36PM

It's another buzzword but I think it bears repeating (and then re-read Joshua's post again):

Openness.

Alexandre38 09 2005 1:38PM

e-commerce is so hard because most net users were fed with the everything is free on the web model. We need to be weaned off that. The next generation will be the true believers in e-commerce.

No, I didn't really mean it in that sense. I meant it in the sense that it is hard for average people to implement. It's expensive to implement, too. Even for me, I can't find an open-source shopping cart and payment system that is customizable with CSS and allows updating products through a backend interface. The closest I've come is OSCommerce, but that is not CSS based.

I'd like to see what Google does with their new payment system.

Alexandre

Otis Gospodnetic39 09 2005 1:39PM

Finally people are speaking up about this "web 2.0" nomenclature nonsense!
If you listen to August 8th "For Immediate Release" audio stream (what people now call a podcast) you'll see some more commentary about other nomenclature 2.0 nonsense (drinking the coolaid, he gets it, etc.).

..ak40 09 2005 1:40PM

This reminds me of the buzzword bingo.

I say keep the discussions with the buzzwords. It helps me communicate with my clients because they can grasp they concepts better.

I say keep the discussions with the buzzwords. It keeps the amateurs amused while the professionals ignore them.

I say keep the discussions with the buzzwords. It keeps the playing field level, making it easy to see who gets it and who doesn't.

Forget semantics and read between the lines. We've lived with all this internet chitchat for years.

Rev Dan Catt58 09 2005 1:58PM

Not new, but repurposed. I think we'll start seeing a lot of Web Applications imbedded into Games, particularly multiplayer games. So you'll have ingame RSS readers pulling info in from the web, IM clients, Skype, POP access and full web browsers you can pull up.

This'll happen to prevent players from having to switch out of the game to check email or read news post blog entries and so on.

Later the whole game will become the OS, you'll be out adventuring or some such and then pull up an ingame wordprocessor to do some work, or writing mini games within the games OSs internal scripting language.

People will be able to earn a living from developing ingame code/content/services.

Mark06 09 2005 2:06PM

There is no Web 2.0. What we all perceive as Web 2.0 is probably, in reality, more like Web 1.1. We're still all using browsers, we're still parsing HTML, and we're still using stateless HTTP connections.

For the most part, all of these inventions that people love to call Web 2.0 have been seen before. When the MIT Media Lab was rebroadcasting local television to the Internet via a custom application that ran over X-Windows, back in 1993, that was Web 2.0.

Movable Type is an application that creates HTML.

Rocketboom is a daily embedded Quicktime movie.

My news aggregator is a server-less Usenet reader.

These aren't anything special. They are merely progressions of ideas that originated back in 1993-1995, only made possible today because of increases in bandwidth and CPU power (to enable high-quality codecs on the desktop).

We can't imagine Web 2.0, because we are confined to the browser and we're confined to HTTP. Bram Cohen, or Sean Fanning are probably the guys to ask, because they recognize the Internet for what it is: a massive cluster of CPU power, all interconnected by large amounts of bandwidth. This is where the genesis of new applications/Web 2.0 will really come from, not from someone repackaging data inside an XML wrapper and slapping a new buzzword on it.

Jason Rossitto07 09 2005 2:07PM

"I think we'll start seeing a lot of Web Applications imbedded into Games"

There are already many companies moving in on games as adspace...

Jason Rossitto14 09 2005 2:14PM

"We can't imagine Web 2.0, because we are confined to the browser and we're confined to HTTP"

You are still looking at it from a technological point of view. The technology doesn't matter. The important changes are cultural. When MIT was rebroadcasting tv in 1993 they weren't having any kind of incredible impact or changing the way anyone does things.
You can say that MoveableType is just an application that generates HTML, or you could say that MoveableType leveraged HTML to create a revolutionary change in how people communicate with each other.
What would you rather MoveableType use? Laser holography?

Ty23 09 2005 2:23PM

One program. In my world, I need Photoshop and Excel at the same time or I need Illustrator and then Word or I need Word and Excel along with internet search capabilities. We need fully integrated programs. One standard that allows them all to seemlessly integrate with each other and the web...with no disconnect between file types, organization or function.

Or, I need a completely customizable program. A way that I can combine, to my satisfaction, every element of my computer life in one seemless system. No programs to open, no searching for data. It is all transferable.

...This idea may be an extention of the Web-based software concept.

I also think the way we interact with the web will continue to bring people together. I do not think it will segregate us. There was a time when the general thought process was that people would someday stay in their homes. There would be no need to leave. Food, entertainment, friendship, work could all be obtained over the web.

This is idea is self-destructing. We are becoming more aware of the world around us, not less. As more people write blogs, more people are finding they have to get out there and do things to have something to write about.

And in addition to exploring their physical surroudings, they are discovering other people with similar opinions. But not the same opinions. This point is crucial. Our diverse cultural, economic and regional differences still come through, driving us to recognize new and interesting things that we wouldn't necessarily have been exposed to in our traditional lives. Our innate instincts to associate with people we see as "like" us are pulled apart a bit when we can't judge someone by their clothes, or voice, or skin color, or language. We are able to meet more people than we traditionally could, giving us a larger network. This network allows us to leave our comfort zone more easily bringing us information about others like we have never had before. I think this trend will just continue to grow and change morphing as our ideas and experiences suggest something is missing. In this case, there is no one thing that will appear. It will be subtle changes that individually won't rock the world, but collectively, will change how we interact and work.

One such innovation is 100% translatable websites. Ever found an amazing picture on Flickr, but the title, description or comments are in, say, Japanese? It can detract from your ability to interact with someone around the world. In itself, it wouldn't be a huge change, but the ability to understand each other across all barriers of language, both data and cutural, could improve our understanding of so much that is lacking. (I am starting to hear peace doves overhead, so I had better stop here before they drop their olive branches. Soapbox: Off.)

deCadmus30 09 2005 2:30PM

How about zero-latency, and adaptive systems (much like your "worn" UI noted, above).

How about examining how narrowcasting -- even podcasting -- is disrupting traditional broadcasting... and how that might be leveraged in ways that aren't just amusing, but useful too?

How about using games to do work in the real world? Wrap up your data entry and inventory systems into a virtual world and pay your "information-workers" to play all day.

How about sharing the wealth? There's an awful lot of the world today that doesn't have access to the Internets at all; much less the opportunity to dream about what the future might bring. Let's unwire the planet and make their future present, too.

kingbenny32 09 2005 2:32PM

It's all about the micro-browsers. Content freed from the usual bonds of crappy browsers and available to any applications that need it.

Harry34 09 2005 2:34PM

re: degradable interfaces

Someone correct me, but did the BBC try something similar a few years ago? As I recall it wasn't the style described by Jer, but a similar idea, that of a higher contrast given to certain parts of the page the more they were used. Thus, one's favorite parts of the site appeared to stand out more, making it easier to come back to later, assuming cookies weren't deleted.

I remember thinking how useful that would be, at least up to the point that I wanted to discover something new. Perhaps it would be more useful for site administrators as another means of visualizing popular parts of a site. Instead of numbers and graphs, you get a view of your web site's hot spots by increasing the contrast of used elements (or decreasing the contrast of unused elements) per user, per day, per month, per campaign, et cetera.

As for future ideas, how about IP addresses for people instead of devices?

kingbenny38 09 2005 2:38PM

Also, re: degradeable interfaces.

I don't get this. Does anybody really WANT stuff to wear out like it does in real life? That's hardly desirable.

Jason R48 09 2005 2:48PM

Not necessarily, but we do want things to wear in

Brad Bice52 09 2005 2:52PM

I love how this is followed up by a link to the new Google RSS feeds. hehe

Plug-ins are the future. Applications like WordPress and Firefox have pioneered this. Soon programs like Photoshop and Microsoft Office will have plug-in exchanges so that you can build your app the way you want it. Themes go right along with this. You'll start out bare bones, but at the end, your application will be unique to you.

Sergei Shelukhin53 09 2005 2:53PM

I guess web will technically speaking die at some point.
With adaption of XML interface languages like XUL or XAML, there will be no need to do anything using good ol HTML :)

I hope they are going to work out some standarts so that we won't have to do XUL/whatever crossbrowser development :)

Patrick Gage03 09 2005 3:03PM

The future will continue in the direction it has been going.

More Users.
More Information.

Until we run out of electrons.

Nick Douglas21 09 2005 3:21PM

Can we cut down on customized search results? Or can someone convince me that my past search behavior truly indicates what I'm searching for today?

And forget blurring boundaries within my computer - the future is about the integration of the net with the physical world, like 3d printers and 3d apps.

What's the next step between my laptop and an internal, neurally activated interface like that in Manna or Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom?

Yahmdallah24 09 2005 3:24PM

Completely intuitive user interfaces where the domain knowledge is contained in the interface.

There are still too many applications where development time centered on the backend delivery of data and not as much on the front-end access to it, so raw numbers and data are presented with no context. You have to be a domain expert to use the application at all.

For example, if you wanted to look at the financials of a company, the interface to get to that information wouldn't require the user to have a lot of foreknowledge about stock value, the organization of the underlying database, or accounting to request the data, and the resulting display would also provide context on the meaning of the numbers and data through graphical or textual means. This will be especially important inner-company intranet applications.

Also, less is more. Look at the start page to Yahoo.com right now. If your grandma opened that page up, how long do you think it'd take her to figure out how to do a search? In among all the crap, there are three other entry blanks besides the main search box, which I consider clearly marked, but that's only because I understand the paradigm. A complete newbie would just be lost at first, imho.

The search results are as bad. The first things returned are "sponsor results." Next is "news" results. Finally we get to the actual results.

Clean. Apparent simplicity. Contextually helpful. I think that's the next killer web trend.

Philip Dhingra37 09 2005 3:37PM

I bet we'll see freelance teachers on the web. I see the web as the ultimate freelancing tool by replacing all the infrastructure that large groups (companies) used to provide:
- secretaries
- marketing
- communication platforms (rooms)
- collaborative spaces
- etc...

We should also see a few more examples of large collaborative enterprises that require little or no physical interaction. Wikipedia right now is the biggest one that comes to my mind.

So I expect to see many more jobs opening where individuals are in charge of the labor where before they once relied on an institution. And I also see larger institutions being deployed exclusively as online entities.

j.37 09 2005 3:37PM

i think it'll be split between things that function (paying your bills, organizing your information, communicating, reading media) and things that entertain (streaming movies, tv, phone, music).

it's the first that i think most of us find most interesting. imagine if you could combine your google homepage, the news feeds, rss feeds from your favorite sites, etc, with all of the bill paying functionality that we utilize, our bank accounts, even the possibility of interaction with gov. agencies (reminders that you need to renew your drivers license...). reading people's personal sites is neat and all, especially when they're in "high level" web technology jobs and we get the inside scoop, but in the end it's not a lot different from reading someone's aol homepage 8 years ago except for the fact that they can be more prolific now.

it's the entertainment aspect of the web that's always scared me. the faster speeds get, the more media we will be bombarded with and the more advertising we will have to deal with. firefox's adblock won't cut it anymore.


the innovations that i think will be most useful will come in making the web easier to use for people who DON'T live on the web like i'd imagine many of us replying here do.

something else i'm curious about is how we might be able to further filter search results in the future to eliminate the glut of useless websites out there pointing to third and fourth party resellers of some product that's barely related to the "how to install a new toilet" information that i was looking for in the first place.

Scott Johnson38 09 2005 3:38PM

Here's one that's not on your list: Atom. :)

Adam43 09 2005 3:43PM

I agree that many of the big differences in where technology and the user experience are headed lie in the above mentioned areas - but many of the comments seem to be so development based/biased that they often omit the importance of the end result in any such progressions... much more of 'by what way are we going to get there' than 'where are we going.' The latter seems way more interesting and important as a discussion topic. The how will come after the ideas.

If technology is largely connected to the 'digital realm' and the web with transporting information of this realm - then it seems the biggest questions of its future are about how we interact with and effect/are effected by the changing digital world.

What media will we be interacting with and how? Reading, watching, listening, touching, tasting. Let me backtrack to a recommended approach to this discussion: "It's 2005 and it's hard to believe believe that we're still using..."

A keyboard and mouse.

Sure, many of us have upgraded for comfort/ergonomics/effeciency to the few available alternatives. Stylus&Tablet, split keyboards, etc. But where are the promises of 'science fiction?' The virtual reality craze that fizzed out into some lame arcade experiences (and probably some great military experiments). The computer interfaces of movies like minority report and ghost in the shell, don't seem so far fetched from technology today (I think Jason linked: this) - and would add so much to our current experiences and capabilities of interfacing with the digital realm, from a workflow standpoint.

Moreso, I hope our future digital realm moves to integrate our natural and non-digital world. That our sensual and social experiences can start to merge with what technology allows, instead of merely viewing it individually. I don't want people around my desk watching a cool video clip... I want to virtually share the experience with them in a convenient and real way. I don't want to send paypal information for an ebay item. I want to shop a seemingly infinite store with my friends, getting instant response time while the experience is as convenient as a bluetooth phone call.

Perhaps this is further in the future than what you are asking about, but it seems an eventual possibility that we might as well be working towards now. Snow Crash?

John Athayde44 09 2005 3:44PM

I feel that we're moving in the direction that in abotu 10 years, the web will be the operating system. It will, in fact, be the only operating system worth developing for in a broad sense.

The cheaper and faster the access, the more ubiquitous it becomes. The question is (and I don't know the answer) - will we be able to handle the information in a meaningful way? I think that aggregators are going to take on a lot of prominence.

The manipulation of raw data is where it's at. From pixels to audio to text to tabular data. reading it, parsing it, breaking it up, making nifty graphs of it, republishing it. all these things. That's what a lot of current web apps do for one form of media. It's when the lines blur that things start to go nuts.

Kip Ingram55 09 2005 3:55PM

I think the future of information technology is going to be more evolutionary than revolutionary. That's not to say that some of the evolution won't have a strong "gee whiz, look at that!" factor, but I believe it's clear that we have a fairly good idea at least in general of where IT is going to take us. If it hasn't been discussed in the trade journals it's been discussed in scifi rags.

I think that the big revolutions in our future will revolve around 1) genetics, 2) space technology, 3) energy, and 4) education.

Regarding 2, take a look at the cover of the latest IEEE Spectrum. Space elevators are on the very verge of becoming realization and can lower the cost of space access to $10/kg eventually.

Regarding 3, gasoline is going to keep right on going up. Something's got to give. Who knows, cold fusion might even make a comeback. I've always wondered if it got laughed out of court too fast because the groups that have become dependent on "mainstream" fusion research have become too strong.

Regarding 4, my wife and I just bought some land outside Houston to build a future home on, and we researched school districts as part of the process. I was mortified at the dichotomy between suburban (affluent) and rural (not so affluent) education quality. I thought the point of public education was to make an at least relatively uniform level of education available to everyone, but it seems clear to me that this hasn't been achieved. Something needs to change in this area too.

Ok, I'll hush for now. ;-)

Mbraman37 09 2005 5:37PM


Say you are conducting a search for something very specific via yahoo, google, or jeeves -- whatever. All of these search engines still offer us iffy results. We may not always be able to find what we want right away, but we can get close; and as we surf linked content (which could explain the popularity of blogs and pop-ups) we may eventually find exactly what it is we were looking for: and that is WHY we use the net in the first place.

Its all about gratification.. whether it be social, intellectual, material (not a bad thing in itself), monetary, for fame, sex, or whatever.... that is why we have the net. To access things in a new way.

For instance, Google screws us because it reveals only what is trendy, what is getting the most hits at that particular moment, what is decisive to business and e-commerce at present. ...

And Google is also increasingly becoming a target for Hackers for these reasons. Hackers want people to have equal-access to private information involving what effects the public. And others hackers still even feel that should have access to YOUR private informations... IOW, your thoughts, experiences, and so on.

It's important to acknowledge that censorship on the internet is a big deal. And it also reflects secrets that businesses, individuals, and entities have IRL. For instance, Yahoo no longer links to their adult-oriented groups (what once was e-groups, mind you) ad that sphere was once a booming community of not only free, but original, content.

Yahoo China, meanwhile, has a strict policy to disregard pages that include words such as "democracy" and "human rights."

So while the internet may be more user-friendly, it is also increasingly regulated at this time. But it has gotten out of control in the past and will again. Andthis is why I think alot of us utilize it...because ultimately anything is accessible through the net in a literal form.

As for the future? Well, as far as ideas go, the potential of the internet is for its uses to become immediate to us experientially. Already wireless and cellure connections are all the rave. I imagine that in time we can conduct searches and then experience-as-real, "what is considered now to be" engagement with whatever content we can think up, or fund... depending on how things go.

But how many gigs per second would such an achievement require? And would we need technology to do this, or will we, through technology, eventually mutate into a connection to this information via evolution? It depends on how long into the future we are talking about, as well as considering what we are capable of now, without technology.




So the internet is being regulated in different ways globally. And hacking combats censorship and exposes

Eric Christensen00 09 2005 6:00PM

Apart from clever technical tricks, the web lately seems to be going in the direction of greater personalization and more service-oriented offerings where "sites" are more about manipulating raw data more intellegently. I think the landmark for me in this regard was Amazon's recommendations, where for the first time I had a website that talked back to me in a meaningful way rather than just serving me up stock content.

Mitch Cook23 09 2005 6:23PM

I think that its not about new technology, it is just us utilizing the technology we already have to make all of our idea's work.
Really everyone wants programs that they can totally personalize right now, everything has to be the way that the people want it or else they won't appreciate it even if it is the best thing on the market.

juniorbonner34 09 2005 6:34PM

I'm afraid I've found this post a little depressing. Over the last year I've become somewhat addicted to the constant flow of new things into my bloglines account. It seems my thirst/appetite for bright shiny new web apps (toys) to discover (such as those you have mentioned) can not be suppressed. I must have more. You, along with various others (waxy/boing/etc) have been the dripping tap bringing me each del.icio.us morsel. Now you seem to have hit a brick wall 'What else is out there? Anything?' Why you asking me?!? (hehe) If you can't come up with an ongoing supply of cool new web things what is the world coming to.

In all seriousness though, I have to say that all the things that you mention may be in the past and present for a small minority of web freaks like us but they are probably in the future (hopefully) for the vast majority of people out there. If I think of all of the people I know - friends, family and work - nearly all of them probably have only really got a good sense of what Google is. My dad would probably think folksonomy is something they do in dodgy boozers in Middlesborough and my girlfriend thinks Ajax is something you clean the bath with. So I would suggest that the future may very well involve the distribution and assimilation of these things into the everyday life of everyone, and maybe what we should be thinking about is how we can faciliate and promote this, rather than constantly coming up with lovely new stuff.

However if lovely new stuff just has to come into existence, then I am thinking Mobile. Get me out of my house and away from this eye sight wrecking monitor and integrate the web much more fully into the actual physical world . Kind of the opposite of Rev Dan Catt's proposed plunge down the wormhole of online games. I want the web to enable and encourage my interaction with the actual physical world around me not to totally disengage me from it.

Hanan Cohen58 09 2005 6:58PM

WWWW - Who What Where When

Who - People. Identity, diffrent levels of disclosure.
What - Activities, products
When - Shared calendaring information
Where - Many ways of describing places

Make this information available on the street and BOOOOM!

Hans Dekker47 09 2005 7:47PM

The semantic web baby! Stop all that talk about better UI, better desktops. All that stuff is already here if you know where to find it, or know how to build it.

The future web is not one of people, it's one of machines. That is, we'll still be here, but more and more web traffic will be machines talking to eachother in new and yet undiscovered open semantics. They will exchange information between businessess, compare notes, see if they can put eachother in context. Build databases, and databases of databases, and databases of databases of databases. Link all sorts of information about people, businessprocesses, supply chains, statistics, et cetera et cetera.

And all of that so in the end, you can have cheaper hamburgers, faster cars and perhaps, finally, a self-cleaning oven that really works!

jake06 09 2005 9:06PM

Before we skip to web 3.0, i'd like that GoogleOS that Jason and Anil were talking about last year. At the very least, I need:
- gCalendar
- gFTP
- gNotepad
- gPowerpoint
- gExcel
- gIM

I know, I know- there's plenty of stuff out there already similar enough to these five that you could get by- but I need interoperability, world class stability, and unlimited storage, and that's simply not here yet.

I'm willing to wait for the following, but please, can't you guys stop monkeying around with Greasemonkey and invent:
- gPhotoshop
- gMediaPlayer
- gVisio

etc!

Jonathan Bruder27 09 2005 9:27PM

Transparency is an old concept, but it seems to me that this is what should be expected from coming web innovations. To me, the internet is most useful when I don't know that I'm using it.

The MMORPG is a good example - I don't realize that I am making a connection to the internet. All I see is the world that opens in front of me. My interactions with real users seem to be as natural a part of that world as the NPCs. Except in the case of downtime, I have little need to be aware of the client-server nature of the software.

The iTunes Music Store is another great example - I rarely notice that the internet is a part of my transactions. The most obvious clue, download time, may soon be negligible. With iTunes, my computer seems to be the largest music catalog I've ever seen.

The autonomous nervous system keeps us from having to think of every heartbeat. That's where transparent internet applications come in. Applications which limit exposure to technical issues allow the user to reallocate the time that would once have been spent on labor and knowledge work. The less time I spend thinking about the internet, the more time I spend reaping its benefits. In this scenario, inefficiency is outsourced. Consider the huge causal chain between the moment I send a text message from my keyboard and the moment it is received on another continent. I pay for that chain of events to be well out of my sight. The system that transfers that message is dirty; it is maintenance intensive and complex, and generates an incredible need for man-hours that are not available to me as an individual. It is an inefficient way to transfer one message, or perhaps even a thousand. But at some point, a critical mass is reached where enough people want access to that inefficient route that it becomes worthwhile for someone to attach a price to the burden and build machines to do the dirty work. Because that dirty work is transparent, 3.5 million people are willing to pay the subscription fee for World of Warcraft.

Most importantly, transparent internet applications must become transparent internet appliances. This is the stuff of media art, where your sheets tell the doctor you have a fever. Arthur C. Clarke said that "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." That's what I see in our future; the device or attire that vibrates when a loved one is in danger, the mouse that tells the coffeepot when you are falling asleep at your desk, and the laundry basket that tells you when all the washers in your building are full.

Max43 09 2005 9:43PM

I see the web as becoming dull. Something that is in the background and integrated. Kind of like music players, television (and then cable), and the telephone lost their lustre after a little while and have become everyday objects. It will be used to deliver services, that's all.

Integration through televisions or portable screens or devices that will give you anything that it can deliver. We're almost there, people need to buy the hardware and get comfortable.

People won't fixated with the "web" anymore. It will be a utility like water/power etc. The funny thing is that I think we will approach an AOL of yore structure, where subcription services will be bundled with access.

James58 09 2005 9:58PM

Re: the BBC redesign - you can download the story at http://www.photoshop-tutorial-4-you.com/downloads/theglasswall_bbc_design.zip. It's a very, very interesting read.

Philip Dhingra12 10 200512:12AM

Juniorbonner is on to something with his intro. Your question started out as a legitimate quest for technologies that you might've missed, but it has since become an expression of the angst of being too up-to-date.

dowingba04 10 2005 1:04AM

Jake, there's a popular Linux app called gFTP. I use it all the time. Perhaps we're closer than we thought?

ron18 10 2005 1:18AM

You want to know what the future of the Web is well I notice in your list you forgot to list Bittorrent which I realize technically isn't the Web but still

Because see it's all about file-sharing and trading and proliferating

Stealing and lending and giving and getting

Eventually all the media outlets will just give up and realize you cannot win a fistfight with a snowstorm and start giving it away for free and just sticking advertising inside the content or plastering Google ads on the margins of everything, something like that

Marketing always finds a way, like plant roots growing up through concrete

That will be the end of broadcast communications it will all be sliced and diced and psychographicked and demographicked and smellographicked and everykind of graphicked made to order desire delivered right under your nose only you didn't even order it

And mass culture will be a thing of the past everyone will fine-tune and customize and tweak their cultural feed until it accomodates their mind and feelings like years-old Birkenstocks on some hippie's crusty feet

Society will be a million million fibres sometimes intersecting like warp and woof and sometimes twisting together like cables and sometimes running on and on and never coming anywhere near each other

Eventually distributed microcultures will develop their own dialects and behavior patterns and cultural codes, people will stop being able to communicate with each other

Groups will resort to increasingly bizzare ways to differentiate themselves

People will find their actions having wider and wider ramifications as one communication leads to another and one morning you walk out your front door and someone throws a water baloon at you because your site linked to a page that linked to something that offended people who make percussion instruments out of junked automobiles

Everyday social interaction will be a baroque series of moves and countermoves as people gingerly feel out an understanding of one another, like chess players trying to think three moves ahead while playing a variant of the game where each player can change one rule every turn.

Only it will all happen so gradually that it will seem like the most natural thing on earth

faith alone25 10 2005 4:25AM

I think Bin Laden will pull off a series of big nuclear bomb attacks simultaneously around this world. Economy will fall apart worldwide.
Online advertising becomes a joke and totally useless and Jason here will have to get to a real job again instead of worrying about flickr, tags or podcasting.

** I'm just kidding guys! Cheer up! **




Matt39 10 2005 4:39AM

[+] A wireless access point on every telephone pole.
(And the impending monopoly lawsuits against whichever company pioneers it.) UK companies have already proposed it. Eventually I think it will be free, although you'll still have to register to get an account to sign on with.

[+] Smart bands and responsible fans.
Someday every band will get a clue and put a donation link on their site so we can download their albums through whatever means available, and pay the money directly to them. Then the music industry as we know it will become extinct. And people will finally see value in paying for downloads - because without the record companies, their donations will directly affect whether a band can cut another album or go on another tour.

[+] Corporate invasion of privacy, a.k.a. personalized marketing.
Corporations love to market to you. And the government does whatever the corporations pay them to do. So your credit card, or even your driver's license, will have something like an RFID chip in it, and ads will adjust to your spending habits. Radio, TV, interactive billboards, etc. Not to the extent of the movie Minority Report, but close. It sucks, but who's going to stop it?

[+] Thought Messaging.
IM meets neural implant, meets personal wi-fi. See someone you like? Think about your match.com profile, then think about showing it to them, and the link will be sent from your PDA/Phone to theirs. (If their preferences are set to receive personals, that is.) They've already wired someone's brain to control a basic up/down/left/right/click control that he can type with, so neural implants aren't as far fetched as you think.

[+] Online software - but not nearly as soon as you think.
MS is already working toward online software, because they're obsessed with licencing fees, and if you can't download it, you can't pirate it. But unless they can guarantee the security and privacy of the information entered in the software, online software isn't really viable. I certainly don't want my personal financial records being run across the web and possibly stored on an external server - companies like MS are notorious for security flaws and violating the privacy of their users. There's no way businesses or government agencies will switch to online software without guarantees that their data will not leave their network - and that will require client-side technology more powerful than XMLHTTP libraries like Ajax, along with a way for online software to read/write client-side files without being a security risk.

gummi09 10 2005 6:09AM

I think a good trend is a reduction in the number of gestures/keystrokes/mouse clicks necessary to do things, online.
A9.com is a good -recent- example of that, and degradative/constructive design centered around a user's habits would help.

peacay20 10 2005 6:20AM

Web platform/apps.
'Personal World' - Everything about me (pictures maps memories products friends work calender websites email travel diary bills...) will be fully crossreferenced, crossplatformed/transferrable and accessible --to me--from a globe start front that is also portable. You may not wish to include google in this discussion but the plethora of map-mashups recently seem to me to be leading the way forward. MyGoogleEarth.

Smith42 10 2005 6:42AM

I think you made this post just to get crawled. Every buzzword there is, all in one place! I better link to you to up my Blogshare value.

All kidding aside, if I never heard another catchy marketing buzzword in my life, I could be happy. Maybe the future could be that we all start speaking plain english and using terms that really identify what we are talking about.

AJAX could become "that old Javascript thing that lets you update a page without reloading, using data from other local sources". XML could become "the idea of putting tags around data in a meaningful way". Hmmm.....it's all a mouthful....Maybe we could just go with "Frank" and "Leroy".

Craniac23 10 2005 8:23AM

The future is a core web app that is so life changing you don't even notice the useability, like visicalc when it first came out. The last great web app, really, was the web. Then we talked to each other and sold stuff, and tried to make those two things easier for the user.

The future is an application that does for your life what visicalc did for your business--lets you see things that were obscured, and change them in a meaningful way. Like a psychic pda

Steve02 10 2005 9:02AM

I agree with the transparency theory. Its all about delivering information (the info the content owner want to share and/or the information the end user wants to consume) to anyone, anytime, on any device. Standards based development, seperation of design and content, will help to enable this.

Chris K21 10 2005 9:21AM

There is a phrase going around the Business Intelligence circles called "Information Democracy," originally coined, I believe, by Howard Dresner. Basically it means that people should have all the access the information they need when they need it.

To me, we are in the middle of this right now on the web. I can find almost anything on google. Beyond that, in my RSS aggregator, I have customized access to information I like to have.

With those two sources and a web browser of some flavor, I have that access.

So I think the next step (which we already see developing) is to acheive true integration. Sure RSS feeds can be viewed together, you can hash maps in google with your local ice cream delivery man, but there is so much more out there that could be done.

To really be useful, all data needs to be integrated, and then devices to access/use/manipulate that data needs to be integrated with the data. Once that happens, we will have achieved a new level of user interaction.

jim51 10 2005 9:51AM

The last few years have been about an explosion of tools that programmers can use to build web applications to address general or niche needs. The future will be about an explosion of tools that non-programmers can use to build web applications to address niche or individual needs.

Jim28 10 200511:28AM

But those are the "buzzwords" all the kids want to talk about. :-)

The grownups are probably publishing some papers at some conference somewhere.

Lemi434 10 200511:34AM

Hans already mentioned the Semantic Web; and just in case you missed it, it was TimBL's idea: http://www.w3c.org/DesignIssues.

When all data is in XML, and mapped using RDF, machines can do our remembering for us. Everything else (even Google) is a hack.

Matt24 10 200512:24PM

Does everyone realize that an all-encompassing "intelligent" web app that knows all your preferences, to reduce keystrokes, etc, means that everything you search for, everything you buy, the history of every site you visit, etc, will be stored by the company who builds the app?

A9 and similar apps only seem like great tools for users on the surface. A9 is actually just a great way for Amazon to know what you search for so they can push their products on you. Using such an app is like voluntarily installing spyware on your computer.

Am I the only one that likes the relative anonymity of the Web, and despises the idea of a corporation continually harvesting information about me for their own financial gain?

Darren James Harkness28 10 200512:28PM

Vague and borderless, with one technology/protocol/application blending into another until the user experience is "I want to do X" and the tools they are using will support it.

Theresa28 10 2005 2:28PM

What I'd love to see on the Web:

1) Better ways to find information faster.
I don't care if your site is in Flash or has a podcast or an RSS feed or a blog. I simply want to find what I need quickly, without having to wade through 20 pages of search engine results. I'd also like to be able to do it without half of those results, especially on Google, trying to take me to pornographic Web sites.

2) An effective online bill paying system that doesn't sit on your money.
I have given up on online bill pay. Most businesses -- and even some financial institutions -- are not set up to receive electronic payments. So you're basically paying for a checkwriting service where they get to use your money for 4 to 10 business days without paying you interest. I think it's one of the biggest, most unprotested rip-offs in the world.

3) Screens that are easier on your eyes.
As a Web developer, I sit in front of a computer screen all day, then sometimes for a few hours at night, too. I'd love to be able to wake up the next morning and be able to actually see.

Harry38 10 2005 2:38PM

It's 2005 and I can't believe:

* that we haven't found the monolith yet. We're getting closer to 2010, the supposed year of contact. What gives?

* that I don't have a Death Star yet, given that the first proposed space station was in 1869.

* that we focus on technology and economy instead of humanity and society; even with all the world's ills being revealed in real-time, our logbooks and our checkbooks attest that we place more value on the CPU than the heart.

* that someone hasn't invented a photo-sharing application. This seems like a no-brainer to me.

GodsMoon56 10 2005 4:56PM

After reading most of these comments first I'd have to say that Jerk is an idiot. The web OS, I'm not so sure will catch on immediately. Sure it has potential but, but I'm not sure anyone everyone will abandon all of there desktop applications in favor of internet ones.

What I do think will eventually happen is that the web will evolve away from just a text based medium even more, perhaps entirely. The web will also be integrated with non web browser mobile everything. Imagine 'photo paper' that could display any of they photos that you've 'uploaded'. You could sit on your couch and look at some photos with your significant other but instead of a huge book to flip through you just have a next and previous button on the side of a single piece of paper.

Another idea. You can browse the 'audio web' while you walk your dog and the earpiece is built right into your sunglasses or t shirt.

GodsMoon57 10 2005 4:57PM

oh good the Jerk comments have been deleted :)

Alex Cline20 10 2005 5:20PM

I think of things like Second Life and Croquet are a great way to get the internet out of the browser. It's like the MMORPG comparison someone made earlier. Croquet is double-nifty because it is entirely a platform for collaboration, and a way to make the web even more of a give and take experience.

BB56 10 2005 5:56PM

I have neither supernatural powers of prescience or a time machine. The only thing I'll venture to guess is that there'll be an explosion in software/service due to computers finally capable of utilizing extremely abstracted programming tools.

John Evans31 10 2005 7:31PM

The web will become more as its name suggests. A web of _devices_ connected to exchange data. Cheaper chips will embed the ability for devices to connect cheaply and seamlessly, high speed internet connectivity becomes ubiquitous and a commodity. Personal computers as the primary means for using the net becomes obsolete, its all about mobile devices, and consumer electronics

Mobile phones are the first sign of this. Several billion devices out there! Now we just need some application for all those devices and the data :D

These applications will simply be much of the same we see today, a large focus on users as creators and consumers of media. The only major difference is the idea of being 'connected' or using a 'connected' app becomes mute because even simple apps are connected to something if only to help syndicate your media to the rest of the devices you own. How often do you currently think about the device your using and if it has a power source or not...

Oh and 5d über-porn drives the adoption of VR ;-)

The Pageman33 10 2005 7:33PM

- open source bi (pentaho)
- open source OLAP server (mondrian)
- eclipse
- feedburner
- jasperreports
- businessobjects.com (IX)
- data warehousing
- openRPT
- mathematica (stephen wolfram)
- GIS integration (googlemaps)
- Navini Networks (www.navini.com)
- prepaid card VOIP services (www.voipglobalinc.com)
- VOIP I/PBX systems

Philip Ashlock56 10 200510:56PM

I believe we're headed to a point where technological immersion is inescapable (yet invisible?) because of its omniprescene and seamless integration into our daily lives. Many factors are contributing to this - inexpensive excessive computing power, [free?]wifi/wan/satelite networking everywhere, higher bandwidth networks being more widely adopted, and the adoption of more openness - open software, standards, protocols etc.

With all of this you get an infinite degree of integration. Something like the Google maps API is just scratching the surface, but i think we're headed into a much more platform/device independent web with much more content sharing. A more complete merger of different media types will also make things more interesting - with television, radio, and telephony already running on the same network with compatible devices.

I hope that the more mainstream usage of the web as a means of sharing media bi-products of our daily lives - thoughts, photos, audio, etc - will lead to an environment where everyone can have their own server to represent themselves. Maybe we are heading back to a mainframe/terminal kind of a computing environment where most of our direct interactions with devices occur with voice recognition and smaller pda-pod/tablet/laptop like devices and everything is managed by a home network server with terabytes of storage and robust server capabilities. Data access everywhere, stream your audio library or home movies from around the world. I already do, preferring to use my desktop workstation as a server as well and not separate my life into blogger/flickr/gmail/etc

None of these concepts are new, but as they become more tightly integrated into everyone’s lives, the "seven degrees" fade away completely and creativity is less bound by perceived limitations. I've found that the best way to approach web-design is to work graphically in photoshop (i'd like to say gimp) with no regard to the necessary structural markup that will eventually contain it - thus opening up creativity otherwise perceived to be locked up by the w3c. Only afterwards do I strategize how to break things down into elegant code.

Is it more globally accepted to use cellphones with cumbersome interfaces to text message and send photos than it is for people to work with OS X to figure out blogging software or flickr or the plethora of IM networks? The box is incompatibility, it's proprietary, it's a closed box.

When there is no box, it's a lot easier to think outside of it.

Just to be cheesy:

We're all fingers on the same hand
We should be working together to solve this riddle
Instead, the only figure you ever see is the middle

Pinkfin19 11 200512:19AM

Harry: A photo-sharing application might not have as much success since people tend to be more protective of their personal images of themselves and their children, as well as protective over their artistic ventures. Besides, great photo sharing sites such as Flickr and Stock Xchng meet the current demand.

Digital Buddha49 11 2005 1:49AM

self-generated editing with collaborative relevance.

and on a different note...

Ron said :

"And mass culture will be a thing of the past everyone will fine-tune and customize and tweak their cultural feed until it accomodates their mind and feelings like years-old Birkenstocks on some hippie's crusty feet "

poetry man, poetry!

Angus Turnbull13 11 2005 2:13AM

I see most of those "Web 2.0" apps as utilities, geared to fill a niche much like a Unix command-line utility performs a task. The technology behind most of the buzzwords you list is nothing new; heck, most could've been written 5+ years ago (yes, even the "Ajax" ones).

I doubt we'll see a "web office suite" any time soon -- several were attempted years ago in Java and failed. Instead, we'll see more of the "scratch-an-itch" type web apps that perform one task and perform it well. Organisation, communicatiion and ubiquity of content will continue to be the strong suit of Web apps. Several clicks to sign up for an innovative simple idea that improves your life = good web app. Replaces a non-web-related desktop app = not happening for a while yet.

Normal computers will be more usable than cellphones/set-tops for the forseeable near future, as phone networks' profitability rests in the fact that they are proprietary content models, and they'll be reluctant to give this up. The regular desktop/laptop 'net connection's utility rests in the fact that access is universal and cheap; its value scales with the number of participants in the network.

Finally, nine out of ten predictions will be wrong ;).

Philip Ashlock26 11 2005 5:26AM

Regarding photo sharing - when residential bandwidth is robust enough for everyone, I would like apps like iphoto or picasa to grant permissions to other people over the web, to feed them your latest photo offerings - and have it as seemless as accessing other peoples’ itunes libraries over the net. But I don't like the idea of even specifying apps to do something like this. I want the concept of specific apps to dissolve, but i suppose there will always have to be buzzwords to label the program or the action.

Oh, and before when I mentioned “box”:
When there is no box, it's a lot easier to think outside of it.

I meant strict & limiting computing paradigms. Just the concept of digital/computer driven technology. Many people have little awareness of how invisible some technology can be - computers in cars for example. Everything should be more like this.

Some of the most significant effects of the evolving web might be in its impact on global society as the great equalizer. I don't think the web could necessarily be said to act as an equalizer by providing communication between everyone, but instead by making it much harder for atrocities to be kept secret. The information dissemination after the Indian Ocean tsunami and the global involvement which followed attests to the kind of inevitable outcome of such communication.

l0b033 11 2005 6:33AM

Fully semantic web sites, which can then be presented to the user via customizable "skins" (not the lame stuff we have today, but proper interface designs).

Adam04 11 200510:04AM

Lets predict the future of PC's without mentioning the internet or it's concept.

Yeah, this idea about predicting the future without mentioning leading technologys really is that stupid.

Jessica33 11 200511:33AM

Right on Adam I invision a projection screen in the near future folowed up by a holographic screens shortly there after.

Jane35 11 200511:35AM

Holographic screen would be awsome I remember the old star wars movies and the holograms they used back then. I hope to see smaller systems and more wireless devices that have a long lasting battery device mayne even a solar compter.

Harry33 11 2005 4:33PM

Pinkfin: Sorry, it was an unsuccessful attempt at humor. I'm aware of Flickr and the rest.

But I was serious about personal IP. If I could login to any device with my personal IP and get access to the applications, data, and services I own or subscribe to, displayed or accessed in the context of the device, well, that would put the sh back in IT.

Then it wouldn't matter if I forgot my laptop, pod, pda, phone, photos, and whatnot, or if I intentionally left those things behind. I just walk up to any handy station, check out a device, and login. Free, of course, because it's absorbed into utilities costs. I pay for the services I want, but the system for access is free.

And this is all achieved via some distributed, DNS-like network. That way, one company doesn't hold the key and the server's on/off switch. It also distributes the load. It also means one person can't delete or corrupt my data. The network seeks out anomalies and corrects them, in a very Lloyd-the-Overlook-bartender kind of way.

I'm all about getting rid of devices, too, so no dongles, USB drives, or computers, please. Thank you, 2021. Looking forward to it.

Harry42 11 2005 4:42PM

Correction: it was Grady.

I ... correct myself.

Sarah51 11 2005 4:51PM

1. triumph of mess

it just gets more complicated. we can't make it into one master interface. hierarchies give more information about themselves than about what they catalog. everything that is automated by machines requires humans to interpret it and delete the spam. awesome.

maybe we'll finally learn, en masse, how to think about really, really complicated things. like cities, like genetics, like new political structures.

2. i'm waiting for the physical world to impact the web.

so far it is so virtual and independent. blogs report on tsunamis or whatever, but nothing shakes the foundations. what happens when we all die of bird flu? what happens when oil runs out? could there be, like, an a-bomb for internet porn?

3. fashion trends in information overload

you know how supergeeks often go unplugged for a week or two? as soon as we name styles of media consumption, we can consume those too (overload, unplugged, casual, immersive...). then there can be fads, and retro flashbacks, and backlashes, and high-profile information fashion.

Bob Aman33 11 200510:33PM

The future is a funny thing. It's always creeping up on you without you realizing it. You said that all of those buzzwords are things of the past or present, but really, you'll find yourself saying that about the buzzword that will be coming out next week too.

The only thing I know for certain is that the "future" will be simple and it will be elegant. Everything else takes too much work on someone's part. Whether it's too much work on the user's part, or too much work on the programmer's part, it doesn't really matter. Laziness will always weed out the bad ideas.

If I had to make a guess, of all the ideas I've heard recently, I would say that Adam Bosworth's vision of the future is the most accurate prediction of what is still to come.

Gregory Borenstein18 12 2005 3:18AM

I really agree with Jim up above about the importance of the amateurization of the web. Blogs are great for normal people to be able to publish their writings, but most of the good business (and other) ideas are not going to come from people wiht CS degrees or tons of experience programming for the web.

We need technologies that put the ability to make web 2.0 types of applications in everyone's hands. I'm a musician and I think I know much better how to make a site for musiciains than most programmers do, but the tools to do this are out of reach without actually becomming a tech-pro.

What web 2.0 really is the invention of suppliers. Just like if I wanted to start a neighborhood coffee shop I wouldn't hew wood and build tables and chairs, if I want to start some kind of small niche web business based on my own interests, I shouldn't have to start from the ground up to become an expert on everything. I should be able to do many of the mundane parts of the business just by assembling pre-existing components and dealing with expert suppliers. That way I can focus on my own area of expertise.

Once it's as easy to make any type of web application as it is to open a coffee shop some amazing things will start to happen, constituencies will be served that haven't ever been served before by the web because they can start businesses to serve themselves.

In order for this to happen lot's of horribly messy things that geeks love need to become cleaned up rationalized and made easy. Not easy in the sense of possible, but easy in the sense that a bassist could do it.

David39 12 200511:39AM

This is boring!

The future?

Complete sensory experience.

or, alternately, small communities banded together via wi-max networks...depending on local production to survive, with no access to major shipping due to lack of cheap fuel source

Mindaugas02 13 2005 7:02AM

its all bull..t. what about Autonomous Artificial Inteligence and Robots?

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.

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