Ok, you might say that it already has, which is true. But we haven’t even begun to get so much as a taste of what’s to come. Why will the future change things and why is the Internet so great (besides the obvious)? Well, I’m going to talk about that a little bit.
Two big things are happening right now that have to run full cycle for us to see the Internet truly take off. One, highspeed internet is being embraced by surfers at a crazy rate. But there is still a horribly large number of people stuck on dialup. Why? Cost and availability. As highspeed begins to filter to areas outside of main cities, and as prices continue to fall, the use of dialup will eventually disappear. There are also a large number of people still using outdated computers. The main idea here, is that when using a computer and the Internet becomes a physically more pleasant experience, use will skyrocket. When I switched from dialup to DSL, my internet use jumped about 4 times as much.
New applications like better browsers (example FireFox) are making browsing easier and less painful. I use FireFox to block popups and a FireFox plugin called Adblock to filter out ads from known ad servers. It works great, and on my most frequently visited sites, I get almost no annoying ads. No animations, no popups, no Flash, no irritation period. Applications like these will go along way toward making the web more user friendly. Thus, the future is going to bring a boom in Internet use like never seen before.
But what, really is so great about the Internet? Email is handy, but becomes yet another stress for people who find themselves constantly at the beck and call of others. Add a cellphone and we hardly get any ‘me’ time to ourselves. Yes, there are games online and it’s handy to do some shopping and banking online. But… other than being a useful tool, how will/does the Internet really change the way we live?
Information. And this is where I get all giddy when discussing the future of the web. Information.
I’m a curious person. I read a lot and come across things I’ve never heard of or things that peak my curiosity all the time. Several years ago, before I had the Internet or even a decent computer, if I wanted to know something, I had limited choices. I would first ask my parents or other people I know. Now that I’m an adult, my parents or others usually don’t have the answers. My next choice was books. I could check our outdated encyclopedia set, or pop an Encarta encyclopedia CD into my computer. But encyclopedias are not much help if you only know the question, not the subject of the answer. And they get out of date… fast. Next stop, the library. This would mean a drive into town and an extensive dig through card-catalogs and endless shelves. 9 times out of 10 I didn’t bother. So my questions went un-answered, and those frequent musings were usually dismissed.
There’s almost nothing I can’t find out within 5 minutes. I boot up my computer (or wait till the next time I’m on it) and a stop at Google or any other search engine will give me the answers I’m looking for. Definitions, articles, quotes, examples and even group discussions. If I need a map to a local company, or the price of a product I can get it in a blink. My potential knowledge is infinite. That may sound corny, but it is the core benefit of the internet. Instant information. This applies to the area of just general knowledge but also to consumer resources and peer networking. This is why I work in this industry, I believe that everyone in the world has a right to learn about anything they choose with the help of the entire collective knowledge of humanity at their fingertips.