WWW Turns 25, Now Watch It Disappear

Having marked the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web, we’ve reached a point where we’re about to see it start fading away.

Well, not disappear, really. Just slowly become invisible.

Already, the idea of “going to a website” is beginning to seem quaint. Apps are rapidly supplanting web pages. As part of this move to apps, we’re quickly moving to smartphones and tablets, leaving desktops and even laptops behind.

As I write this, the connectedness of Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s vision is fading into an omnipresent—and more powerful—layer around us.

First, we’re seeing this in wearable tech, where engineers and designers have struggled to move the digital experience off of smart phones and tablets and move it primarily onto watches—at least for now. Secondly, Google Glass has taken us into a relatively inexpensive (given previous technologies) and portable version of virtual reality. And most recently, we’ve seen Nest meld digital into our home through thermostats and smoke detectors—and then saw Google quickly snap the company up.

Essentially, all three of these things are part of the same story. Wearable tech, virtual reality and the Internet of Things are helping digital become the black matter of our lives: all around us, but unseen.

Digital will be baked into everything: clothing, appliances, vehicles, homes, buildings. It won’t be very long before we think it odd and quaint that we had been carrying around smartphones and tablets. What will replace them? I have no idea … Holograms, maybe? You might not need to actually have a device…at least not one big enough to hold…if everything around you is connected.

As this evolution continues, not only do things become more connected, but there is more data generated, and more ways to use that data. Your home, your car, your toaster would all be collecting data and giving you feedback. Wearable tech that reads your pulse and brainwaves, for example, may know that you are sick or tired before you know.

The coffee pot may turn on once it knows you’re out of the shower. Your car could let you know that most of your mileage efficiency is being squandered because of bad driving habits it can itemize for you—in order of priority—and also turn up the heat in your house when you’re just a few miles away as your return home after work. Your work apps can track what makes you productive and what is impeding productivity, and what hours of the day are optimal times for you to work.

Of course there are thousands of examples of how life may change and improve as the World Wide Web matures into everything around us. Certainly, there are dangers around losing even more of our privacy, having decisions made that we’d like to make for ourselves, and structuring small aspects of our lives that make life interesting. In the end, with the further evolution of the World Wide Web, the obvious trapping of the web will disappear. And everything will indeed be digital.


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