The Future Started Without Us

Mark Zuckerberg got a lot of ink last month when he said, “I just think that we’re going to be in a world a few years from now where the vast majority of the content that people consume online will be video.”

If I wanted to be snarky, I might point out that Zuckerberg is about the last person in the Internet world to have voiced that opinion. But coming from the Facebook king, his observation has added impact because, as another story on this page reports today, Facebook has quickly amassed 8 billion video views a day, and Snapchat, with just a fraction of Facebook's daily user base, is doing the same. So for Zuckerberg to have missed that trend would  be like Ray Kroc not noticing that his fast food stand was sure selling a lot of hamburgers. Obviously, Zuckerberg has noticed.

Even if Zuckerberg somehow divorced Facebook from the rest of the Internet, Cisco’s Video Index has publicized the changes pretty well. In 2014, it predicted 84% of all IP traffic would be video by 2018. That is a stat that has actually gotten a lot of excited reaction despite the fact that’s only six percent higher than what it had when that report was published.

That’s what interests me about these days. We’re struggling to grasp the future we’re already living.

Meanwhile, the fresher Cisco data from a mobile report update last month noted that now, mobile video traffic accounted for 55% of all mobile traffic last year and that video will account three-fourths of all mobile traffic by 2020.

This is more than just gee-golly news. All that video use will eat up a lot of bandwidth--and it is already.

“One consequence of the growth of video in both fixed and mobile contexts is the resulting acceleration of busy-hour traffic in relation to average traffic growth,” this report notes. “ Video usage tends to occur during evening hours and has a ‘prime time,’ unlike general web usage that occurs throughout the day. As a result, more video usage means more traffic during the peak hours of the day.

“Globally, mobile busy-hour traffic will be 88% higher than average-hour traffic by 2020, compared to 66% percent in 2015. Peak traffic will grow at a compound average growth rate (CAGR) of 56%  between 2015 and 2020, compared to 53 percent for average traffic.”

Again, obviously, Zuckerberg is not making up this trend. We’re living it right now and as video and mobile grows, the world is moving away--rapidly--away from a time that text will have that much impact on Internet users or advertisers.  It will possibly become rare enough that it will be too unwieldy to use, or conversely, really rare it will be valuable.

Everything is changing, faster than the world is ready for it. Part of the world is still stoning its enemies, and part of this nation is still arguing over creationism. Another part of the population has just moved on, so far, far  away that the current debates seem unreal. It’s exciting. It’s scary, it's an adventure, like driving a cool car, really fast, without any lights on.

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