The one thing we were missing when it came to write this Big Report was a digital crystal ball. After all, how do you predict the future in a futuristic age? Who casts runes these days or pores over tea-leaves?
Instead, we did some reading and thinking, and reached out to some of our expert contacts, in our best attempt to visualize the World Wide Web -- and our interactions with it -- in the year 2022.
The United States will be on its 45th or 46th President by then. Barack Obama will be in his early sixties. We may or may not have a European Union. About the only thing that seems certain is that Vladimir Putin will still be President of Russia.
2022 is a long way off, but key digital developments are already in hand. The current explosion of mobile connectivity will surely exert an influence 10 years from now. Desktops and laptops -- even tablets -- may be hardware of the past, as we access the information stream using voice, gesture, and retinal displays. Immersion in this all-enveloping data field will change the way we work and think.
The displacement of information from devices will be reflected in the displacement of the worker from the workplace. Accessing the collaborative environment anywhere, anytime, a nomadic workforce will expect IT to manage the streamlining of data through virtual platforms.
As for social media, we're not going too far out on that unpredictable limb. Will Facebook (or perhaps a successor) swallow the Internet whole, locking us into a fully socialized online experience? Or will an adverse reaction set in, driving users back into isolated silos?
Of course, what 2022 looks like will be governed in large part by the political and technological foundations of connectivity. Big changes are looming, but innovations in the basic architecture of the Internet -- like software-defined networking -- could be overtaken by diplomatic developments. Member states of the ITU, meeting in Dubai this December, are capable of throwing international network traffic, and even the domain name system, into utter confusion.
The risk, as ever, is that the decisions that will finally determine the structure and function of the World Wide Web 10 years from now will rest in the hands, not of entrepreneurs or users, but of politicians.
Read the report sequentially, or click specific pages listed below. And please share your thoughts with us on the message boards.
— Written by Kim Davis, Community Editor; Mary Jander, Managing Editor; and Nicole Ferraro, Editor in Chief, Internet Evolution
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