The Pew Research Center asked a set of professors, businessmen, and readers of "technology-oriented listservs" to imagine the Internet of 2025. (Source in PDF and HTML.)
Some respondents speculated that there would be amplification of known trends: "ambient" networks (sensors, cameras, phones/tracking devices) that are increasingly integrated into work and social life, ongoing disruption of traditional "content" industries, and the continued growth of analytics/surveillance ("tagging, databasing, and intelligent analytical mapping of the physical and social realms.") Of course, networks "accurately predict[ing] our interests and weaknesses" implies the loss of personal privacy, first to governments and corporations, but eventually to any interested party or social engineer.
Others predicted decentralization and fragmentation self-forming mesh networks, darknets, and proliferating incompatible national/corporate algorithms. Your freedom would be circumscribed by the ideology of your network's owner.
I put the question to you, O People of Soylent. What futures do you foresee? What trends or pathologies does the Pew report minimize or neglect? How can or should *we* influence the Internet's direction in the next decade?
While it's fun to imagine a crazy new world, based on the speculated rise of some new technology; it's probably safer to predict that well-established trends will continue, and consider what the overall picture would look like as a result. For example:
1 - Internet access will get faster and available in more places. In 10 years it will be unusual to be somewhere without wireless broadband of some kind (e.g. 4g, wifi).
2 - Phones (i.e. computers) will get more much powerful within the same size and price range. In 10 years you'll have enough computing power for 99% of office tasks, in your pocket. So you won't need a desktop, just a dock for your phone (that comes with full-sized screen, keyboard, etc). Also phones will need to be able to switch to a gui mode suited for bigger screen (i.e. multiple windows instead of always-full-screen or tiles).
3 - Fewer and fewer things will be transmitted on not-the-internet. In 10 years audio, video, text, voice-calls, etc, will be accessed almost exclusively via tcp/ip. (instead of radio, broadcast tv, sms, etc)
So basically we'll all have supercomputers in our pockets, plugging them into bigger screens and keyboards, etc as needed. These computers will run many local and remote applications, which will be almost indistinguishable from each other, because they'll all use the web-browser as their interface, and you'll have fast, reliable internet everywhere. All of your tv watching, music and news listening, and various kinds of communication will all be done over tcp/ip, instead of the other special-purpose networks.
In other words, the best parts of today's www, but more reliable, available, and fast.
As a result we will all depend on it and be addicted to it, to a degree we are only just starting to see today. There will probably be a backlash to this, where people are encouraged to "offline" regularly, to remind themselves of their humanity. Disconnected retreats, or camps, will become like rehab or fat-camp. Leaving your phone at home for a day will be an extreme sport.
And security will be as bad as today, only exaggerated by the amount of online services to be compromised. All internet activity will be monitored by about any interested party, be it private companies, government agencies or organized crime.
Cash will be outlawed, all money transfer will be online and monitored, to fight crime (although the true criminals will still know how to hide their trace).
However, I won't be one bit surprised if I'm still printing off multiple hardcopies of things for meetings and if most folks continue to have an attention span that precludes even using any written documentation anyhow.
Nope. Can't see this happening.
You and I know that native apps perform better, are generally more responsive, etc. than webpages. But I don't think it's performance that's holding back the mobile web in favor of apps. It's UI. When someone installs an app, it appears in the designated app spot on their phone. If someone needs to manually add a bookmark in order to make it easy to get back to something, adding that is optional, and then they need to go seek it out later in their bookmarks list, it probably won't happen. Out of sight, out of mind. That's the difference between, for instance, people who can use a command line interface and those who find it too frustrating to learn: sometimes you need to hold something in your brain that doesn't immediately appear before you. Not a lot of people seem to be able, or willing, to do that, at least on a computer... either on their desk or in their pocket.
This strikes me as a very small obstacle. On my homescreen I have several bookmarks, right next to app-shortcuts. Some even have the icon of the website instead of the icon of the web-browser (it depends on which browser I used to make the shortcut).
This process of sending a bookmark to the homescreen (on android at least), is relatively easy (easier than installing an app) but not particularly obvious, at the moment. It would be fairly easy to make it more obvious, though.
I think both performance and the UI are holding back the mobile web to some extent, for now. But there are software and hardware improvements which continue to occur, and which will almost certainly persist for the foreseeable future. For example hardware getting faster for the same price, js engines getting more efficient, webgl and the canvas element in general becoming more popular and well-supported.
Ten years is plenty of time for these things to combine to make the mobile web fast and smooth and pretty enough for almost any application.