I attended many sessions at EVO and loved them all. I will be honest though, one left me wanting. Wanting to blather on more, which I did, with conference attendees and with my co-workers – many of whom I consider among the smartest people I have ever met.
The topic was the Future of Social Media, and much of the talk focused on, frankly, things that are already here.
So, I confabbed with my usual partner in crime, James Shane, over my morning tea coffee OK, fine, I drink Diet Coke in the morning, and here is what we came up with as important trends for the future. And since we aren’t limited to the topic of the conference, we opened up to the whole wide web and what we see coming.
It was recently widely reported that mobile devices (phones, smart phones + tablets) will overtake desktops by 2015. That is FIVE YEARS away, friends. James thinks that number is a little optimistic here in the US due to our devotion to the QWERTY keyboard (see: Dvorak), but either way, we are cutting the leash. Along with this is a new way of thinking. Or old, as my friend Esther pointed out – seeing as many other regions are far, far ahead of us in terms of using mobile to make their lives easier. Mobile as payment (see: Square), or mobile as business card (see: Contxts).
People get freaked when we start throwing the term “Semantic Web” around. Because, OH EM GEE – people can find me. IN my house. IN my bed! Um, not really. Because in general, the point of Semantic Web is to clean up the internet and make things easier to find. Labeling content and categorizing it to give context. Identifying yourself across the web allows people to pull your content from a centralized area, so whenever you reference Greeblemonkey, it means the same thing – “a mommyblogger who is a photographer and does tech stuff too.” I have control of these connections, I link up these connections. I tell Facebook, Twitter, Buzz, Foursquare about me and they talk. Yes, people can track these connections if I leave a blatant trail – so I don’t. According to James, “People who aren’t criminals like to they can think like criminals, and in general criminals don’t do things complicated – they do it fast and on the fly.”
OK, speaking of freaking out, this is the other big one. Read this and then come back. I’ll wait! … You good? Let’s think about the all the good things location brings us. Like the time I was SHOWING a friend Foursquare, checked in, and realized two good friends where on the other side of the bar. People I would never have seen had I not checked in. But, I did, we hung out all night, and now my old friends met my new friends. And also, business are *starting* to get the hang of it, recognizing their repeat customers with specials based on repeat business. Personally, I would much rather get coupons from places I frequent than the random spray and pray junk mail that lands in my inbox every day. Speaking of, did you know that Google has a patent to update old billboards in street view with content related to you and your location? A bit scary, yes, but again – wouldn’t you rather have relevant content than not? This is the thing about location. It brings relevancy.
And location, of course, brings data. I am not privy to monetization discussion at Twitter, but I would bet (a lot of) cash that they center around what to do with all that DATA. Their investors don’t care what we had for lunch? Um, yeah, they kinda do. And lots of futurists talk about “data as currency” or an “attention economy.” This will affect (and has been affecting) every single one of our social networks, how they do business, and what features they implement, for many years to come.
The panel touched on this a bit where Chris Pendleton could “spark” with other singles by seeing them in realtime in front of his mobile screen, and then extinguish them if they weren’t a match. (P.S. Um, Chris, I hope the lady you extinguished wasn’t in the room at Evo!) But, the thing is, augmented reality – where info is placed on top of your live mobile camera in realtime, has huge potential! Especially for people like realtors. Can you imagine walking through a house for sale and having information pop up about what kind of cabinets where installed, what kind of lighting fixtures are there, how many square feet the room is, etc?
And I don’t just mean Second Life – I mean massive realtime web conferences where people are really projected to each other (not just the half ass ones we have now where it takes 20 minutes to get things working right). The new iPhone’s FaceTime is a step in that direction – where we will finally have videophones like the Jetson’s predicted. But only over WiFi and probably still half ass. But we’ll get there. We will. Welcome to the holodeck.
We’re close on this one too. But for example, my friend Dave Taylor has predicted the next Olympics will be nothing like this one – or the ones we watched as children. This time delay, all USA only in the USA weirdness will come to an end and it will all be on the web as pay per view. Hallelujah.
MULTI-TOUCH / SURFACE TABLES
Some of you are snickering right now that I mention this, because you know that my husband was just hired as Creative Director for a company that develops apps for Microsoft Surface Table. But I promise, this is no plug. Why did he want to go work for them? Because they are the future. If you have never seen them in action, watch this video I shot of Declan playing with photos and maps. But, point being, eventually, we will walk into a bar, sit down at a surface table, put our phone down, authenticate a tab through some form of mobile currency, order drinks through the table’s surface, play games with our friends on the table, read email there, tweet there, hang out with friends IRL there, pick up our phone, unauthorize the tab, pay the tab through the mobile phone, and go home from the night. I am serious. And our kids will have these surfaces all over their homes.
One last thing that *is* scary but *is* coming. I remember my economics teacher predicting it 20 years ago in college. James sincerely thinks we will move away from logging in, and depending on the level of security, move to fingerprint scanning and retinal scans for identification. Most likely at airports first, banks and so forth. So that is the Big Brother thought I will leave you with.
What other trends do you see coming?