We’re well into the current era of the Web or web trends, commonly referred to as Web 2.0 Features of this phase of the Web include search, social networks, online media (music, video, etc), content aggregation and syndication (RSS), mashups (APIs), and much more. Currently the Web is still mostly accessed via a PC, but we’re starting to see more Web excitement from mobile devices (e.g. iPhone) and television sets (e.g. XBox Live 360).
Bearing all that in mind, here are 10 Web trends to look out for over the next 10 years…
1. Semantic Web
The Semantic Web is about machines talking to machines. It’s about making the Web more ‘intelligent’, computers “analyzing all the data on the Web – the content, links, and transactions between people and computers.” So when will the Semantic Web arrive? The building blocks are here already: RDF, OWL, microformats are a few of them, but we are probably a few years off still before the big promise of the Semantic Web is fulfilled.
2. Artificial Intelligence
Possibly the ultimate Next Big Thing in the history of web computing, Artificial Intelligence has been the dream of computer scientists since 1950. AI means making intelligent machines. In that sense, it has some things in common with the Semantic Web vision. We’ve only begun to scratch the surface of AI on the Web. AI has a lot of promise on the Web. AI techniques are being used in “search 2.0?
3. Virtual Worlds
Second Life gets a lot of mainstream media attention as a future Web system. But at a recent Supernova panel that, the discussion touched on many other virtual world opportunities. On one hand we have the rapid rise of Second Life and other virtual worlds. On the other we are beginning to annotate our planet with digital information, via technologies like Google Earth.
Mobile Web is another Next Big Thing on slow boil. It’s already big in parts of Asia and Europe, and it received a kick in the US market this year with the release of Apple’s iPhone. This is just the beginning. In next 10 years time there will be many more location-aware services available via mobile devices; such as getting personalized shopping offers as you walk through your local mall, or getting map directions while driving your car, or hooking up with your friends on a Friday night. Look for the big Internet companies like Yahoo and Google to become key mobile portals, alongside the mobile operators.
5. Attention Economy
The Attention Economy is a marketplace where consumers agree to receive services in exchange for their attention. Examples include personalized news, personalized search, alerts and recommendations to buy. The Attention Economy is about the consumer having choice – they get to choose where their attention is ’spent’. Another key ingredient in the attention game is relevancy.
6. Web Sites as Web Services
Scalability of entire web architecture is turning into both platform and database which is a big issue and legal aspects are never simple. The transformation will happen in one of two ways. Some web sites will follow the example of Amazon, del.icio.us and Flickr and will offer their information via a REST API. Others will try to keep their information proprietary, but it will be opened via mashups created using services like Dapper, Teqlo and Yahoo! Pipes. The net effect will be that unstructured information will give way to structured information
7. Online Video / Internet TV
This is a trend that has already exploded on the Web – but you still get the sense there’s a lot more to come yet. It’s fair to say that in 10 years time, Internet TV will be totally different to what it is today. Higher quality pictures, more powerful streaming, personalization, sharing, and much more – it’s all coming over the next decade. Perhaps the big question is: how will the current mainstream TV networks (NBC, CNN, etc) adapt?
8. Rich Internet Applications
As the current trend of hybrid web/desktop apps continues, expect to see RIA (rich internet apps) continue to increase in use and functionality. Adobe’s AIR platform (Adobe Integrated Runtime) is one of the leaders, along with Microsoft with its Windows Presentation Foundation. Also in the mix is Laszlo with its open source OpenLaszlo platform and there are several other startups offering RIA platforms. Let’s not forget also that Ajax is generally considered to be an RIA – it remains to be seen though how long Ajax lasts, or whether there will be a ‘2.0′.
9. International Web
As of 2008, the US is still the major market in the Web. But in 10 years time, things might be very different. China is often touted as a growth market, but other countries with big populations will also grow – India and African nations for example. For most web 2.0 apps and websites (R/W web included), the US market makes up over 50% of their users. Indeed, comScore reported in November 2006 that 3/4 of traffic to top websites is international. comScore said that 14 of the top 25 US Web properties now attract more visitors from outside the US than from within. That includes the top 5 US properties – Yahoo! Sites, Time Warner Network, Microsoft, Google Sites, and eBay.
Personalization has been a strong theme in 2008 particularly with Google. Indeed Read/Write Web did a feature week on Personalizing Google. But you can see this trend play out among a lot of web 2.0 startups and companies – from last . Fm to My Strands to Yahoo homepage and more.