The Future of the Web – Spinoff From EVO Conversations

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.

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?

This article has 28 comments

  1. zipper

    OK, I know you were trying to calm us down, but you still freaked me out! But great post! 😉

  2. Amanda Magee

    This was awesome. I am overriding the urge to do something like comment on the trend of partial perms and shoulder pads ever coming back, but will instead stay on track. I think that all the while we have these new technologies, gadgets and levels of awareness and accessibility, we’ll also see a trend to simplicity in other areas. A desire to winnow the detractors, be they people or obstacles, that keep us from living, real life, face-to-face living and experiencing. A kind of life-style efficiency commensurate with the tools we are developing. At least that’s where my company and my family is heading.

  3. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Awesome, Amanda. Love it! 🙂

  4. Rachael

    Snap! Amazing post! I need to read several times and digest!

  5. Bon

    i agree…these are in many ways already here. but still to see them laid out is cool.

    i just finished a free open course in educational futures, and one of the things that interests me most about all these new technologically-driven shifts is the behaviour shifts they enable. like you say about foursquare creating the meetup btwn your old friends and new…it’s the point at which we become post-digital and start to focus on what we DO with the stuff rather than the stuff itself that is really the future of the web.

    maybe we should team up and continue the conversation in a presentation of both sides of the future? 🙂

  6. Tickled Red

    Absolutely amazing information. You have given me a lot to think about. I am trying to balance all of what I see coming with the future of technology for my boys with what I wholeheartedly do not wish for them to loose. Social skills,the use of the English language rather than short hand and the ability to not need these advantages/tools to validate them. I love your points 🙂 Thank you for a different perspective and some valuable insights.

  7. Alli

    I still think of Ana’s (@anarc) words in that session.

    This technology can be abused so easily.

    (trying to be less nervous)


  8. Esther Crawford

    Great post, Aimee! It’s one of those things where Pandora’s box has already been opened. The answer isn’t pretending the technologies will go away, but instead figuring out how best that can be used and regulated.

  9. Mixtape Jones

    Thanks for that. I’m glad there’s someone who I’m actually paying attention to (e.g. YOU) who is keeping track of this stuff. At least, until I can figure out a way for K.C. and I to go the the EVO conference next year.

  10. Anonymous

    You just totally freaked me right out.

  11. Jyl Johnson Pattee

    So I guess you’ll be leading this panel next year??? 😀 This was AWESOME info, Aimee!

    As always, great seeing you, my pool jumping partner in crime (literally LOL!)!


  12. Danielle Smith

    Not only do I think you are wicked smart – I completely agree with what you said during the panel – that you are (as I am) currently using some of the newer technologies, not b/c you think they are indispensable right now but b/c you are trying to figure out how they fit into your life.

    This post makes the whole thing seem less frightening and far more manageable!

    Thank you! xoxo

  13. Amy @ Taste Like Crazy

    This just proves to me I should have been at EVO. Plain and simple.

    Reading over your take on stuff, I just wish I had been there so I could have asked questions. So I could have had discussions on the talks after the talks.

    And as far as the desktop things Microsoft has come out with, I played with those at BlogHer last year and was just blown away.

  14. Jane

    There is no way I will use my mobile for credit card purchases, no way!!!!

  15. Debbie, i obsess

    Aimee — dang, you’re smart.

    And thank you for the report. It’s unsurprising and not a little daunting, but it’s necessary that we all consider it as inevitable, these advances, and prepare for them rather than tremble and quake in paranoia behind locked (mental) doors.

    I’d give my right you-know-what (okay, fine, boob) to have gone to the conf. Glad you went instead. I’d have just consumed too much booze and missed 5/8ths of the important stuff.

    (Sorry I’m not contributing re: your query for input. Ahem. Hi. Booze.)

  16. The Casual Perfectionist

    I think all of this technology is great, but I’ve been thinking about something for a while now. Imagine, if you will, archeologists from the future. Something catastrophic has happened, and they’ve been forced to go back to using paper or something tangible. (Lack of electricity, resources, whatnot.)

    They’re sifting through layers of ancient rubble. They notice the stone tablets. They find some fossilized papyrus (if that’s even possible). They find scrolls, manuscripts, and books…and then, they discover weird plastic boxes, cubes, flat surfaces.

    “For some reason,” they say. “Civilization just stopped writing and reading. That must be why their society failed.”

    “No,” one will say. “My ancestors passed down a myth of people telling stories with magic and talking with people thousands of miles away, but I find it too fanciful to believe.” 😉

    But, back to the present tense: My daughter will think it’s weird that Mom ever had buttons on her phone. 😉

  17. Anonymous

    I don’t think we are anywhere near retinal scanning at airports. The expense, the loss of freedoms, no way people would stand it.

  18. Stephanie Schwab

    I missed this session but have the feeling I got way more from your post….thanks! So great to catch up with you at Evo!

  19. Jeannine

    Really, really great post!!!! I definitely think you need to lead this discussion next year. EVO was one of the best conferences I’ve attended and I can’t wait for next June.

  20. monstergirlee

    somehow this depresses me, I’m already having a hard time keeping up.

  21. Momo Fali

    You know so much that it makes my brain hurt. Stop being so smart because you’re making the rest of us look like schmucks!

  22. Carissa(GoodnCrazy)

    Okay geesh.. well thought out here… I especially liked the comment (from you) about phone answering machines freaking ppl out in the early 80s.. que the laughing of the crowd… I agree, I think we’ll find the things that work about all this and move on from there…

    and to think!! I rode the gondola with GREEBLEMONKEY!!!!!!!! 🙂
    thanks again for the photog help!

  23. Carissa(GoodnCrazy)

    PS I totally want to start using my cell phone as a credit card!!

  24. melissa

    I’m all for advanced technology but I am going to start investing in portable anti-bacterial soaps for those multi-touch/surface tables.

  25. underedge

    I don’t think we are anywhere near retinal scanning at airports….thanks
    the world of creativity….

  26. Anonymous

    Wow. This post is awesome! Thanks Greeblemonkey!

  27. Angela

    holy cow, aimee.

  28. TG

    This was awesome article…Thanks
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