I don’t know and neither do you. If anyone says they know what the Next Big Thing is, assume the position of one eyebrow cocked, head askew, and feet twisted slightly away to allow for a swift escape. Nevertheless…
…here’s a few things it might be:
- A set of viable models for profiting from digital IP, as people get increasingly exposed to, and comfortable with, taking other people’s creations for free.
- Protecting the world and its children from hackers, frausters and moral perversion, without spoiling the socialist ethos on which the web was built and still operates.
- Mobile solutions with which we are so comfortable that they become ubiquitous and our daily activities become substantially more “connected”.
- Hardware that facilitates more fulfilling digital experiences, such as “electronic paper” readers.
- Location-based services that make geographical proximity important again, in the context of our digital lives.
- Services launched via gaming models, thus making the boring but important stuff fun.
…and here’s one thing it could well be:
The term digital curation has been bouncing out from the hard techie core of the web into more mainstream publications since March 2007, which unsurprisingly coincides with that year’s SXSW Interactive. Technologists and sociologists have been talking about the Semantic Web for longer. Some commentators like to refer to the next life stage of the internet as Web 3.0, and usually reference the semantic web in the same breath.
The broad principles behind curation and semantics, insofar as the evolution of the internet is concerned, come down to one core problem: information overload. The idea is that we already have masses of data and we’re only going to get more. We can’t handle it all in a way that brings the most useful or entertaining stuff to the fore. So we are looking for solutions that manage and filter, ie. curate, that data in ways that are meaningful, ie. semantic, to our real lives. Just as Google revolutionised search by using algorithms that attempt to mimic human decision making and pattern recognition, the next big web technologies are likely to do the hard work of presenting existing information to us in human ways.
And if you can find 15 minutes in your frantically tuned-in life, Kate Ray does a much better job of explaning the above idea in her documentary.