The Internet – 26 years ago, there were just a bunch of people who knew what this meant.
In my humble opinion, not even they knew what vast potential was awaiting to get discovered by the humanity. The computers Industry and the Communications Industry were revolutionized like nothing before, and at its core the Internet is a medium for collaboration and interaction between individuals and their computers without regard to geographic location.
Before going any further…
Question: Let’s pretend you’re the owner of Internet. What one special rule, applicable to everybody, would you proclaim ?
Luci: This is a hard one. I’d make it sure that nobody would prevent access to public information.
Marcy: Nobody can spend more than 8 hours per day in front of a computer. They should go out, exercise, experience real life, communicate more … without the aid of a machine. Also, accessing the Internet would be possible only by singing a song, and this would grant you 2-3 hours of Internet. Want back online? Sing some more!
Alina: You get fined for spamming!
Read the full interview. They’re a wild bunch!
If you think about the Internet as a product, then you’ll indulge me to say that it had some early adopters and slowly more and more followers dived into the use of the world wide web.
In 1995 only 14% of American adults were using the Internet. Today over 30% of its users are admitting that the Internet is an essential part of their lives, and more than 50% are saying that it has strengthened their relationships (see the graph). From when it was first released to the large public, until today, the Internet grew more than anybody ever imagined, and not only that but the speed at which it’s still growing is exponential, due to the possibility of remote collaborations (connecting bright-mind individuals from all around the globe).
However, just like any other product of the human race, it wouldn’t mean anything without its users; and if you think about it, the Internet is a polymorphic entity that shapes its appearance, usefulness and character, depending on our intentions to use it. The Internet is nothing more than what we’re making it to be.
Of course, it can offer some extraordinary opportunities, like connecting people, facilitating access to information and education, creating new ways through which we can collaborate. On the other hand it has its downside, like any powerful creation put in the wrong hands – viruses running free in the network, the exposure of personal sensitive information, cyber terrorism.
When you buy a car, you won’t just buy it and drive it around, running over cats, dogs and people. Firstly you’ll get accommodated with its usefulness by your power of observation, secondly when the time comes you’ll learn how to drive one, thirdly you’ll purchase a car, and lastly you’ll put it to good use by applying everything you’ve learned about it. Why things shouldn’t be the same with the Internet? In the last years a wave of paranoia has flooded the Web users regarding surveillance, terrorism and crime. While some theories are rightly founded, mainly the paranoia is caused by being poorly informed and/or by exposing sensitive personal information freely, without any constraints.
Let’s focus more on the good stuff.
There’s a plenitude of useful apps over the web, but all of them have one thing in common. They’re all trying to address a user’s needs. So it’s not hard to deduct that the future of the Internet is the Internet of You.
Even if we’re talking about a chat app, a social network, an e-commerce website, or anything else… they’ll all try to get in touch with you, by getting deeper and deeper inside your mind, trying to tackle your desires, your thoughts, your emotions, your inner lasting flame. But you shouldn’t perceive this as a bad thing, because you have the remote in your hand – you can choose when to log in and when to log out. In fact, it’s a great thing that companies will try more and more to understand the users and their needs, and start addressing them accordingly.
However, we must try to understand what’s going to happen in the near future. We cannot heal the online work environment, if we aren’t perceiving the intended meaning of the Internet and its future development.
So what are some specific predictions about the future?
Well, there are some bright assumptions and some dark ones, as the Digital Life in 2015 Study showed us. The study, or more correctly the ‘predictions report’, is based on the minds of 2,558 experts and technology builders, and while they’ve all agreed on the technology change that lies ahead, it wasn’t the same case about its ramifications. Most believe there will be:
- A global, immersive, invisible, 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.
- “Augmented reality” enhancements to the real-world input that people perceive through the use of portable/wearable/implantable technologies.
- Disruption of business models established in the 20th century (most notably impacting finance, entertainment, publishers of all sorts, and education).
- Tagging, databasing, and intelligent analytical mapping of the physical and social realms.
Overall, these expert predictions can be grouped into 15 identifiable theses about our digital future – eight of which are characterised as being hopeful, six as concerned, and another as a kind of neutral, sensible piece of advice – the choices that are made now will shape the future.
- Information sharing over the Internet will be so effortlessly interwoven into daily life that it will become invisible, flowing like electricity, often through machine intermediaries.
- The spread of the Internet will enhance global connectivity that fosters more planetary relationships and less ignorance.
- The Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and big data will make people more aware of their world and their own behavior.
- Augmented reality and wearable devices will be implemented to monitor and give quick feedback on daily life, especially tied to personal health.
- Political awareness and action will be facilitated and more peaceful changes and public uprisings like the Arab Spring will emerge.
- The spread of the ‘Ubernet’ will diminish the meaning of borders, and new ‘nations’ of those with shared interests may emerge and exist beyond the capacity of current nation-states to control.
- The Internet will become ‘the Internets’ as access, systems, and principles are renegotiated.
- An Internet-enabled revolution in education will spread more opportunities, with less money spent on real estate and teachers.
- Dangerous divides between haves and have-nots may expand, resulting in resentment and possible violence.
- Abuses and abusers will ‘evolve and scale.’ Human nature isn’t changing; there’s laziness, bullying, stalking, stupidity, pornography, dirty tricks, crime, and those who practice them have new capacity to make life miserable for others.
- Pressured by these changes, governments and corporations will try to assert power — and at times succeed — as they invoke security and cultural norms.
- People will continue — sometimes grudgingly — to make tradeoffs favoring convenience and perceived immediate gains over privacy; and privacy will be something only the upscale will enjoy.
- Humans and their current organizations may not respond quickly enough to challenges presented by complex networks.
- Most people are not yet noticing the profound changes today’s communications networks are already bringing about; these networks will be even more disruptive in the future.
Advice: Good choices matter, so start today!
- Foresight and accurate predictions can make a difference; ‘The best way to predict the future is to invent it.’
What can we do?
Firstly, you should stop relying on others opinions and start thinking for yourself. Read, more than once, the above predictions, and translate them in your “language” accordingly to your needs. Analyze everything!
Secondly, you should ask yourself what can you do to keep things running, without being negatively influenced by the outcomes of these predictions. Plan ahead!
Thirdly… Stop sharing sensitive information on the Internet! Just stop! You’ll want “the Internet of you” to be just yours, not everybody’s… Stay safe!
Fourthly, choose your devices and softwares carefully. Don’t be a “blind-user”. Stay informed!
And lastly, bond relations with “the others” – customers, companies, collaborators, all the people you’re coming in contact with over the Internet. Be human!
There you have it folks!
With its goods and bads, we must accept the Internet as being a big part of our life but you should always remember: the Internet it’s exactly what we make it to be and we, its users, are the ones who have the power to control it!
Of course, changing the Internet means changing our very nature, but that’s another bedtime story…