All the information quoted is here from an article on this website (but that doesn’t appear to have a permalink). The premise of the article is about a guy who wants to be the next CEO of Apple. Good for him. And some bits of the article – mostly towards the front and back – talk about Apple-specific ideas. That’s not what caught my attention. What did catch my eye was his vision of where the world is headed in the next decade. It’s truly visionary and i agree – in large part – with his assessment.
In just ten years, there won’t be any more PCs or MP3 players, there won’t even be any “smart phones” or televisions as we know them today. There won’t be any operating systems for consumers, no downloadable music, no DVDs, and 100% of today’s software will be retired. We’re on the brink of the Semantic Web, a transformation as significant and different as everything we’ve built over the last forty years. The Semantic Web will slowly but surely accelerate us from the old flat innovation curve to a new, disruptive, hyperconnected future.
We’ve spent the last thirty years recreating our old paper documents and filing cabinets on hard drives – same information, just with an easier way to move it from place to place. We’ve gotten very good at integrating hard drives and memory chips into our lives, so we can see all those 19th-Century paper documents on our screens. Where we’re going, we don’t need hard drives and memory chips. Instead, we’ll have ubiquitous access to the Semantic Web. Whether it goes on your wall or in your pocket, all devices are simply “screens” that can see the semantic web, and the screens will come in all sizes, from one centimeter square to wall-size. They will wrap around you or project onto the side of your igloo. They might just be built into your glasses. Ray Ozzie calls this your device mesh.
For consumers, there will be many benefits. Your online identity will be safer and more powerful. You’ll do everything you do today from your online semantic desktop. Your calendar will hook to all your activities, so it can keep up with you automatically and work with others’ calendars to actively help you coordinate your schedule. Your resume is always up to date, and interesting job offers flow in as they are created by employers – you can adjust the flow according to your desire for a new job. Your health records will stay online under your control, and you’ll choose who gets to see them. Your financial information will all be in one place, so you can direct what happens to it. Your taxes are always prepared. Your photos go straight from your camera to the server – no memory cards to lose. You’ll access all your social networks from one place. Lose your phone? No problem – take mine and log in. Want to watch any movie ever made? Listen to music you’ve never heard but really enjoy? No problem – the Semantic Web will stream it to you, and you’ll never manage or back-up your media collection again. All your assets and ownership are under your control – you’ll be able to see every mile your car has been driven, the temperature in every room of your house, and when the next train arrives at the subway stop near you. You’ll have full information portability so you can take your account from one vendor to another. All your information will live in the cloud and be woven into every product you use. You’ll have VRM (Vendor Relationship Management) tools that put you in control. You’ll work with marketers on your terms, not theirs. Your will won’t be a paper document; it will be an executable document that can work for you long after you’re gone.
For businesses, the spaghetti of text and keywords that today serve as electronic mimics of our previous paper-and-pencil records will be replaced by meaningful, semantic documents that are like plug-and-play lego bricks: reusable modules of information that stay in one place and give your business more leverage than you can imagine.
For professionals the world will change completely. You’ll do everything from your social semantic desktop – your control room that gives you access to everything and everyone you need. We’ll see the emergence of passive commerce and passive search – where you specify exactly what you’re looking for and it will find you, rather than the other way around.
The only hesitation i have is that everything will be in the cloud. I agree that a lot of stuff should/will be there, but i’m not entirely convinced that we’ll get rid of our desktops and throw out all our hard drives. Consider gaming. That takes a lot of processing power, and if you have to do all that off-site somewhere and transfer all the data in real-time, it could be prohibitive. What about process and data intensive tasks? How much will is cost to “rent cycles” off someone’s CPU to grind away at some calculations? Will it be cheaper than just running something at home? What if there’s not enough bandwidth or the server goes down? You’ll need offline storage of critical pieces. I don’t think the OS is going away. But it will certainly transform.
Regardless, the future is coming fast and i can’t wait to see what it brings.