Earlier on this week I found this fantastic Infographic via Neville Hobson on Twitter (click the image above for full sized graphic). It’s incredible to see how far we’ve come in the last 10 years of the Internet and it provoked a bigger question.  What is going to happen in the next 10 years of the Internet? What will it look like a decade from now?  Whenever I’m asked this question the first thing that springs to mind is ‘implants’… maybe I read too much William Gibson when I was younger or maybe it’s because I’m getting older and beginning to understand the limitations of my own memory.  There are things I simply don’t have to remember now because I can Google them.  As a result when I’m not able to access the Internet I suffer, unsure about facts I’m lost without the ability to have most knowledge at my fingertips.  A simple implant that would allow me to Google from my brain would solve this. It has to be the future right?

Google’s project glass seems to be the first step towards a future where the Internet will become part of us and not just something we connect to using our fingers, yes it’s still a physical item we have to wear and the technology isn’t quite there yet.  You may even be worried about the amount of information that something like Google Glass will demand of us but there is no denying it has a strong possibility of being part of the future of the web.

We already live part of our lives in the cloud. We keep our contacts there through iCloud or Google, some of us save our documents or even create documents there, we listen to music there and watch TV and film there. But the cloud it’s not all productivity based.  When we watch an on demand film on Netflix we record our progress in the cloud allowing us to log in on a new device and continue to watch from the point we last viewed.  In theory we can start watching a film at home on our TV, continue watching it walking down the street on our smart phone, sit in a cafe or on a train and watch it on a tablet. At the moment we have to physically pause or stop the film but in the future, with implants, Netflix or a service like it will know if we fall asleep, if the phone rings or if someone knocks on the door and pause the broadcast accordingly. We already have the capacity to be always switched on as long as we have a device and an Internet connection, so is it such a big step to think that in 10 years time this will be wired into our brain?

Will.i.am made his mark on the Olympic torch carrying by tweeting as he carried it, this must have been hard work, he had to carry the torch, walk without falling over and tweet all at once. Surely it would be easier if he could just think his tweets?  Thinking your tweets would be amazing and it would solve so many problems, you could tweet from your car without crashing, tweet whilst carrying the Olympic torch without falling over or dropping something, you’d just need the best thought recognition software and you’d be good to go.

The biggest problem with ‘thought tweeting’ technology would be filtering. We’re probably all guilty of oversharing from time to time on social media, if we could just tweet our thoughts, if we didn’t have the opportunity to review our tweets before we hit the send button would Twitter just become swamped with our inner thinkings?

Sharing this way would also be exposing others to a different person. We all craft out outer persona, from the way we dress, the way we wear our hair, the facial expressions we use. We may not have absolute control but we’re just showing the outside world our wall paper.   However well someone gets to know us there are always private parts of us, our inner thoughts, the unedited us and it is probably no fun for anyone else to live through the full version. If we’re going to be fully connected to the Internet will we be exposing the full us… and if so are you ready for that? I’m not!

All this might seem a bit outlandish but there are people out there already working towards something like this, maybe it won’t be as quick as 10 years but slowly and surely we will start to let technology further and further into our lives and into our bodies.  Eventually having an implant won’t seem like a big step at all.  In fact I’d much rather have an implant in my brain than in my breasts!

How do you see the Internet in 10 years time?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

For more on the future of the web here’s a massively inspiring and sometimes frightening article from CNET News.

 

As the first day of the new year dawns I’ve been thinking about how social media may change in 2012.  I can’t claim to be a clairvoyant and have to admit that these predictions are based solely on my own use of social media.  I imagine I’m not an a-typical social media user but my two week break from using it for business has given me more of an insight into what ‘normal’ social media users do.  So here goes…

Niche Networks

Social Media will not stop at being a place where you just share content or make friends, it is going to become a way that we record our lives.  This concept could seem scary to some, Timeline from Facebook  allows you to see your entire life on Facebook is getting mixed reviews for exactly this reason.  Anyone that saw the last episode of Black Mirror will understand the extremes that backing up your memories could lead to.  However, those of you who like me who find yourselves rifling through your brains for memories might see an advantage to backing up your memory online.  In many ways this is how I use Niche networks.

I’d always considered Niche networks to be Internet forums, or ‘Ning’s’.  However I’ve found in 2011 that I’m using more and more smart phone based networks.  Applications like ‘Instagram‘ ‘GoodReads‘ ‘iMapMyRun‘ have iPhone or Android apps but also connect to the traditional internet.  With Instagram I’m discovering more about people’s lives and obsessions through photographs, with GoodReads I can share my book reviews and get recommendations for others, with iMapMyRun I can record my own cycle routes and find cycle routes that others in the local area have recommended.  These networks aren’t about accumalating friends or followers they’re about sharing with likeminded people and discovering more about the things that interest you.

Facebook and Twitter act as the hub for these activities, each of the apps above can be pushed to these networks and it allows you to find groups of people within your social graph that share specific interests. Facebook Timeline ensures that these achievements and thoughts are there for good… or at least as long as Facebook exists.  In fact Timeline is a very clever ploy in this respect.  Are you likely to want to leave your memory backup behind and abandon Facebook?

Google+

I still think it’s too early to predict the success or failure of Google+, it’s very new and although I see active users rising it’s the one network I’ve abandoned over my Christmas break.  Although I’m not leaving it for good it still seems too much like work for me.

It’s success or failure is in some respects irrelevant as the impact it has had on other social networks has been huge.  Facebook has tidied up and clarified some it’s own features, real improvements with Facebook lists and the formulisation of the subscribe feature amongst others have only come about because of the advent of Google+.  We’ve also seen a new Twitter arrive, a Twitter that really competes with Google+, we can now see media such as images and videos in the Twitter newsfeed, would we have seen this without G+?

The impact of Google+ will keep pushing innovation in the other networks we use in 2012 and it will be interesting to see the social web evolve as a result.

News

Newspapers are still struggling to survive in the digital world.  Consumers have begun to view news from a variety of sources, loyalty to a particular publication is dwindling.  For this reason I don’t see the subscription model working for social web users.  If I want to read an article on a particular subject it could come from anywhere and I’m not likely to subscribe to a newspaper just to read one article.

I see the solution to this being news aggregators, I’d be more likely to pay a subscription to an app or a website that allows me to read news from a variety of publications, a ‘reader’ that would be a gateway to the articles I want to see.  As far as I’m aware there is no such service currently available.  The iPad/iPhone app FlipBoard comes closest and if we are to pay for our news in the future this is the only way I can see it working.

I’d like to hear your ideas on how we will use social media in 2012 too so leave a comment if you have one.