10 More Future Web Trends

Our post a few weeks ago, 10 Future Web Trends, received a lot of excellent feedback. The most interesting was from people offering alternative future web trends to the ones we had chosen. In fact there were some grumblings that our 10 picks were not futuristic enough – so in this post let’s see if we can address that! There’s nothing smarter than ‘collective intelligence’ after all…From the comments and trackbacks to the original post, plus some hunting around of my own, here are 10 more future web trends:

1. Integration into everyday devices (suggested by Mark Schoneveld); As examples Mark mentioned your grocery-ordering refrigerator and your health-monitoring bathroom. Commenter #63, Jack, had a nice term for this: « device pervasiveness ». One can imagine Microsoft and Google battling it out in this domain over the coming years.

2. Hyperlocal; Sebastien Provencher forsees « the transformation of the web into an exciting hyperlocal tool. » He said that the combination of the social web, geo-tagging standards, GPS-enabled mobile devices, and the eventual arrival en masse of small merchants and online municipal governments « will forever change the way we see our city or our neighborhood. »

On the same theme, commenter #66, Jacqueline, said that « local and hyperlocal content/news systems are going to blow up in the not-so-distant future; based on the whole citizen journalism trend (and things like iphones, twitter, and devices/apps that haven’t even been invented yet will make it possible for people to post breaking news literally as it happens). »

3. Data retrievel/manipulation agents; Commenter #45, Bill, wrote that we can expect in the future a « a metaweb tool » that comes with « an AI program ». This device will do data retrieval and manipulation for users, interacting directly with people.

In a way, this is what the long-running open source PIM project Chandler is attempting to do – provide software agents. Maybe by 2017 Chandler will have delivered its version 1.0 ;-)

4. Read/Write/Request Web (a.k.a. a « living machine agent »); this extends on the ‘software agents’ concept. Yihong Ding is a Ph.D candidate in Brigham Young University and his view of the future Web is complex. This is his description of a read/write/request web: « A web space will be no longer a simple web page as in Web 1.0. Neither will a web space still be a Web-2.0-style blog/wiki that facilitates only human communications. Every ideal semantic web space will become a little thinking space. It contains owner-approved machine-processable semantics. Based on these semantics, an ideal semantic web space can actively and proactively execute owner-specified requests by themselves and communicate with other semantic web spaces. By this augmentation, a semantic web space simultaneously is also a living machine agent. »

5. User-controlled, open Internet Identity; Thomas Huhn pointed out that « forming your online identity, controlling what personal data you give to whom and aggregating all your and your environments lifestreams in an open social network is simply essential for the further development of the web. » We’re seeing this develop now (it’s sometimes referred to as, you guessed it, Identity 2.0), but the scenario Thomas described is 5+ years into the future.

6. New forms of Internet Interaction; Chris Rijnders wrote that new types of Web interaction technologies will come to the fore. Things like « flexible OLED touch-screens, new visualisation technologies which present data in a new way, etc. »

7. Extended Reality; in response to our original post, Stephen Downes wrote up 10 future tech trends – many of them drawing on science fiction. He mentions Bruce Sterling as one influence, although there’s plenty of Greg Egan and Philip K Dick in there too! (two of my favorite SF writers). ‘Extended reality’ was one of his picks that was Web-related. According to Downes, it means « a digital version of the real world such that the digital version is as real as the real version. What that means, pragmatically speaking, is that if it hurts in the extended world, it hurts. We will have full sensory coupling with the virtual world, making the virtual world every bit as ‘real’ to us as the real world. »

8. Expert Systems; mentioned in Steven Spalding’s excellent post about « web 3.0 », an expert system is « a software agent that takes user input, runs it through a knowledge database and then generates an output using fancy technologies like neural nets ». Ten years from now, wrote Spalding, « Expert Systems won‚Äôt only be designed for general cases, but will be able to be easily generated to understand individuals tastes. […] Imagine a world where your computer would generate a profile, a meme map about you based on your interactions with the web and refine your experience based on this map. » While this has things in common with the agents described in #4 and #5, it is more about having a vast knowledge db to refine your daily lifestyle.

9. Personalized Medicine; this has been on the cards for some time, but in the not too distant future our medical details will be online and the networking aspects of the Internet will be utilized to improve the way medicine is prescribed. As a recent report noted: « Imagine this: you visit your clinician, undergo genetic testing, and then you are handed a miniature hard drive containing your personal genome sequence, which is subsequently uploaded onto publicly accessible databases. » See also the blog ScienceRoll.

10. Blog reading automatically input into our brain; OK this is for all the critics who said my previous picks weren’t futuristic enough ;-) In 10 years time, we won’t have to worry about RSS Readers at all – everything we need to know on a daily basis will be automatically input into our brains each morning while we’re eating our breakfast. This process will literally take seconds, but we’ll have all the latest news at the end of it. Fans of The Matrix will recognize this scenario – remember when Neo became a martial arts expert in a matter of seconds after that ‘knowledge’ was input into his brain? Well this is the same thing, only for blog readers. Oh and btw, by 2017, the top blogs will be pumping out 1000 posts a day – so we’re going to need it!


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