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The internet’s past, present and future.

What did the internet mean to you 20 years ago?

Or how about your cell phone? What did it look like and, more importantly, what all did it do? Most of us didn’t have a cell phone in 1990. Less than 10% of Americans even had pagers at that point. This all came up as a topic of conversation when a buddy of mine was politely asking his Droid (verbally) the directions to the nearest Regal Cinemas and it’s subsequently polite, verbal reply with driving directions. Had we considered that 20 years ago, it’d been scoffed off as science fiction stuff by most of the general public.

Maybe within the next 20 years we’ll be “beaming each other up.” But don’t we already beam a lot of ourselves all over the place on a regular basis? The internet has shrunk the world down more than any mass transportation industry could hope to. It could hardly be simpler to have a live webcam chat with friends and family all around the world. Not to mention all the videos, photos, blogs, notes, Likes, virtual farming activities, hourly updates on what’s going on in your life and other things that are available through the various social networks. The increasing number of “connected” friends and family in your life have immediate access to these things the moment you “beam them up.” Thank goodness for scrapbooking or there would be no reason to haul all those pictures of Tommy’s first birthday party to the in-laws’ house this Thanksgiving. =/

facebook logoSocial networks have been around for quite a while. Since the mid-90′s, we’ve had the ability to post on things like Classmates.com. AIM and ICQ were the popular chat apps, which eventually could be linked to a profile page containing a few pictures and short blurbs. And while Myspace garnered plenty of attention from the younger crowd and the music scene, Facebook finally made an intuitive, organic, social network that’s accessible to virtually anyone. And accessibility is key.

A Long Way From Pagers

And within this 20 year mark, we don’t even need our computers to do these things anymore. We can do any of this where our iPhone or Droid (my preference) gets service. And if you’re in one of those ever shrinking areas that doesn’t get service…you’re probably not reading this. O.o This milestone greatly broadens the accessibility of all these features, further ingraining the internet into our culture. Most school kids today have no concept of cassette tapes. The next generation won’t know what it’s like to not be able to “YouTube” a video of their school’s winning touchdown only moments after it is scored.

If we want, we can track each other as little blips on our GoogleMap around the world via GPS. Domino’s tells us the guy’s name that’s making your pizza, via a Facebook app, as well as at what stage of delivery it’s in. Cars are parallel parking themselves for goodness sake! Okay, so that one is not done via the internet…YET!

There are other techie items allowing remote control (via the internet) of a number of different gadgets; certainly translatable in to  remote manipulation via motion-captured control inputs (ie. control a “robot you” on the other side of the world.) The technology is there, it’s the profitable execution that is lacking. But that’s a rant for another time.

I just think it’s interesting to recognize how far we’ve come and to postulate what the next 20 years will bring.

Yack About It

If you’ve happened upon this, please leave your comments, thoughts, theories, or rants below. You don’t need to register to do so and I’d be interested in hearing what you have to say about the state of things.