A couple weeks ago, the World Wide Web turned 25. To commemorate the occasion, the Pew Research Internet Project — one of the leading think-tanks studying the Internet and how consumers use it — released a groundbreaking report.
On March 12th, 1989, Sir Tim Berners-Lee released a paper proposing the concept and architecture for the Web. On Christmas Day of 1990, he published the code for the Web for free. While the Internet had been around for quite a while, the Web allowed everyone to access and benefit from it like never before. In honor of the Web’s birthday, the Pew Research Center is looking forward to what the Web will look like in 2025 by polling over 2,000 experts and compiling their responses.
The resulting report found some interesting themes. The report quotes these experts as foreseeing “an ambient information environment where accessing the Internet will be effortless and most people will tap into it so easily it will flow through their lives ‘like electricity.’” That’s not exactly a huge leap for most people to make — the Internet has become easier and easier to access within most, if not all, of our lives. To think that in 2025 it will be as effortless to use and access as electricity does not surprise me in the least.
Another trend we’ve touched on in this blog — the Internet of Things — is the top theme that emerged from chronicling these experts’ answers. To quote the report, most of these experts believe there will be “a global, immersive, invisible, ambient networked computing environment built through the continued proliferation of smart sensors, cameras, software, databases, and massive data centers in a world-spanning information fabric known as the Internet of Things.”
Many of the large moves by major technology companies — Google purchasing Nest (home automation), DeepMind Technologies (artificial intelligence), Boston Dynamics (robotics), and Redwood Robotics, Apple hiring fitness experts and filing patents related to health monitoring (iWatch), releasing iBeacons and promoting the technology as the future of near-field communication, etc. — support this concept. The best technology companies are learning as much as they can about us in order to better anticipate our desires (and match us with the right advertising partners to cash in on those desires). The next logical step is simply to connect all the information they’ve learned about us into a giant, interconnected web that is not confined to computers like the World Wide Web was, but rather into this new Internet of Things.
“Augmented reality enhancements” provided the second largest trend Pew identified within these responses, specifically concerning “the real-world input that people perceive through the use of portable/wearable/implantable technologies.” This would cover items like smart watches, fitness/health monitors, smart glasses (Google Glass), bionic contact lens, etc. The entire exercise and health field is moving in this direction. From sports to business, everyone seems to be embracing the power of data — it can explain past events and help inform future decisions. We want to know more about the world around us and the statistical likelihoods underlying what’s happening; wearable and implantable technologies will help individuals make sense of the droves of information out there.
These were the top two trends Pew identified within the responses. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be breaking down the other trends to put them into context for your enterprise. Until then, have some fun imagining what the World Wide Web will look like in another 25 years; it’s hard to believe we’ve already come this far.