How To Win The Post-Internet Future

Success in media has always been tied to the ability to innovate in the face of change. Although we can’t predict the future, anticipating what’s coming will pay enormous dividends for marketers and publishers.

As TV disrupted radio, and as the Internet disrupted TV, what’s next? What disruption will bring us to a post-Internet era, and what rules will govern this new age?

Great thinkers are already anticipating how our world — and our lives — are being reshaped by technology. Google’s been active in this area with its exploration of self-driving autos. The average American spends 80 minutes a day driving – imagine how that time could be “better” spent. Immersed in a video, reading, working, studying, even sleeping. Podcasts will fall by the wayside as we consume entirely different types of content.

With the uptake of technology in our Internet era, computers’ move into the mainstream has been met with our innate desire to take things with us, to be tethered and wedded to them at all times.

It’s obvious how mobile our future will be. Take a look at the technology within arm’s reach. A desktop computer? Why? And why would you keep your data and content in only one physical place? With the cloud, a desktop could morph into one large flat screen with a wireless link to a handheld device.

It’s very easy to imagine the death of the desktop computers within the next 10 years. We’ll head from office to home and back toting our smartphone, jacking into networks and screens from place to place; easily accessing all the bits and bytes we need.

But what will we be doing when we’re using those devices? The Internet as we know it will go away. The structure and the networks will still enable communications, but what we call the World Wide Web will cease to exist.

Think about how you used the Internet to access data and content 10 years ago and how you do it now. In 2002, you typed a URL into a browser and you went to a Web site. (Possibly, you were one of those last residents of the AOL walled garden online.) Now, you use your smartphone or your tablet to go right to an app (say Netflix or Flipboard) to consume content. More app-like experiences are inevitable.

Look at the Windows 8 interface, the new RockMelt browser, or the other new tablet-friendly, tiled mosaic experiences emerging. These become our new, preferred dashboards that grant us post-clunky, post-keyboard access to the Internet. Consider how long you still spend each day using a PC and ask why we don’t demand elegant interfaces that are similar to those on our tablets and phones. Some media companies like Quartz are already pointing the way forward.

Your world will be filled with screens, as in the fabulous picture painted by Corning. And enormous sums of data and content is collecting. Connectivity and access are no longer conformed to keyboards or styli, thanks to the eye-tracking and gesture technologies being developed by companies such as Leap Motion and PredictGaze.

Most important, we will realize the fuller potential of our extant technologies (computing and communications tech) – helping to transform lives and improve societies the world over. Think about farmers in developing countries whose lives are changed through what they can do with a cellphone; and the activists in the Mideast who use social media to help topple a dictatorship.

What this means for digital business remains to be seen, but throughout history, development of media and technology have changed and been changed by how commercial interests and the public interact — just look at films and television.

Imagination is the key for all who hope to help drive (not be driven by) this evolution in media. We have a choice: We can anticipate or simply innovate in the coming post-Internet era. It’s going to be exciting. Just picture it.


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