Few technologies over the last century have been so uniquely transformational as the World Wide Web. The ubiquitous presence of the Web in daily life and the manner in which it has impacted commerce, communications and society, makes it hard to believe that the Web wasn’t even around a mere two decades ago. The rapidity, with which the Web has transformed lives and the ceaseless innovation around it, makes it hard to predict with certainty what the Web will look like in future. However, there are some inescapable conclusions that can be reached with a little bit of crystal-all gazing.
First and foremost, the Web will become an even more intrinsic part of daily life than it already is today. For most, it will become the primary form of communication and socialization, their primary channel for news and information and their main avenue for shopping and commerce. The Web will increasingly become a place marked by well-defined communities or social networks, each with their own social hierarchies and norms. Such Web communities will not be defined by demographics and race, but rather by common interests, common causes and often by common social, economic and political goals. Increasingly, the Web will be the place where all social discourse and debate take place.
The manner in which the Web enables individuals to broadcast their presence, will lead to an even greater democratization of ideas, ideals and innovations. While governments will continue to try and stifle the free flow of information enabled by the Web, they will increasingly be unable to do so. When that begins to happen, entire political systems will begin to change. The Web is going to be the venue where the political battles and discourses of the future will be fought. Politicians and social leaders will seek to grow their followers by using the Web to reach out to new audiences and new demographics that they’ve never had access to before.
The Web will also become the central repository of all human ideas, inventions, innovations and creative output. It will allow for the free flow and sharing of ideas and it will enable a truly collaborative environment for creative and commercial projects. Importantly, the Web will become the primary interface between consumers and commercial enterprises. Though businesses will continue to require physical facilities and infrastructure to manufacture, warehouse, showcase and distribute their products, almost all commercial transactions will take place on the Web. The Web will enable virtual manufacturing on an unprecedented scale and corporate entities themselves will no longer be defined by their physical location but rather by their Web presence.