The Internet in your pocket

Vincent Maher, director of the New Media lab in the Department of Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University, predicts how new media will shape our lives in the future.

Ten years from now, the debate about the digital divide will still be raging, even more so despite the presence of the Internet almost everywhere. Web access is going to be wireless and invisible. By the time student numbers start with G16 everyone will know this. Some of the key areas of online development and growth during the next ten years will be in the area of social networking… …information networking and what technologists refer to as the “semanticisation” of the web.

 What this means is that everything will become more and more connected and the new forms of knowledge that will emerge on the web will come from patterns of articulation rather than individual bits of information. The early stages of this can be seen already with new knowledge systems that currently fall under the Web 2.0 label. Web 2.0 is not a revision of the way the web works on a technical level, it’s a change in the way people use it.

Web sites like del.icio.us, Flickr, MySpace and Digg are all examples of how connecting bits of information can form new types of knowledge whether it be who you know or what relates to what. The idea that your mobile phone can double up as a computer with as much power as the one on your desktop right now may seem odd, but it will become a reality soon enough. Keep in mind that your current phone has more processing power than Sputnik.

As the Web 2.0 trend continues, your mobile phone will simply become a networked gateway to all your digital properties. If products like ShoZu, which are available right now, enable you to manage your photographs and videos online, imagine what it’s going to be like in the future.

The key difference between then and now is that the generation will not be defined by what media they consume, like the MTV generation, for instance, but by what media they produce. Everyone will be able to produce media via blogs, moblogs, vblogs and all sorts of other publishing models that we haven’t yet imagined. So if you think web stuff is for geeks, you’re already a dinosaur.

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