the web in five years

Reposted response to the waferbaby brainstorm - where do you see the web in five years?

heretic (09/05/02 @ 02:17pm)

this is a hard call... it depends a lot on whether web standards are properly adopted or not. i recently attended an it lecture where the second- and third-year students were asked if they'd ever looked at the w3c site or specs. most of them had never heard of the w3c. on top of this, people still don't have much idea what a "web developer" does... designer, yes. programmer, yes. developer? no idea.

it's still a novelty to have accessibility features built into a site and there are millions of pages out there marked up badly or marked up according to old specs. many businesses still have a website because they think they should; but they have no idea why or what they want to do with one.

in five years the web might just be getting to the stage where people really know what they're doing; and those who don't know what they're doing do realise they should hire a professional, just like they do now for expensive print jobs.

in a perfect world....

the browsers will support standards in a consistent manner and content creators will have evolved beyond the imbecilic "click here". spam will have been sued out of existence so email addresses can once more be safely displayed. the cost of access will have dropped considerably and cheap, web-ready devices will be as attainable as radios and tvs. net-based commerce will have spawned a global currency (which i naively feel would be a good idea but could be very wrong). instant messaging will prompt people to leave the computer and meet up with friends (hahahhaha*sigh*). the music industry will collapse under its own weight as the artists desert the labels in favour of releasing their music electronically directly to the fans. people will be able to use the net for mundane tasks and use the extra time they get back to actually live.

in reality...

the long-term effects of the net will begin to show in measurable ways. it will become a career for shrinks and psychologists trying to figure out what the human race has become living with the net. netscape navigator's troubled life may end; paving the way for ie to dominate the market, but also open the way for alternate browsers like opera, mozilla and k-meleon. businesses will start getting smarter about their web sites and perhaps even listen to web developers and their "supporting standards = long-term savings" arguments. more sites will go to database-driven content delivery and management. the proliferation of broadband will mean the way traffic is measured and charged will have to change; people will be online more because they don't have to dial up and aren't using up time. the massive weblog/journal craze will end and people will move on to the next big thing.

....or maybe not.

maybe the web will be more or less the same as it is now. it is after all an extremely young medium. compare it with print, which has been around for centuries and is still far from perfect.

but basically, in five years the attrition rate will be cutting out the web deadwood. dotcoms/startups/etc with bad business plans will have gone bust and only the strong will survive. as someone else has noted; free hosting will probably die out.. consequently the web will be populated only with content produced by people who care enough to pay to publish it. the falling cost of hosting may balance this out; but greed is what drives this world so maybe not.

hell, in five years something bigger may have come along; virtual reality perhaps. it's kinda crazy to try and predict what will happen... it's all 640k is enough and the world will only need five computers.