Last week I posted a tribute to Sir Tim Berners-Lee celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Web. This week I’d like to look toward the future and discuss some potential scenarios for the next 20 years.
I don’t pretend to have a crystal ball that looks 20 years into the future. Yet I can see some things coming down the pike, and I can predict a few others.
The first prediction is an obvious one: the semantic Web. The Web was built for human consumption. The concept of the semantic Web is to make the content of the Web machine consumable. The semantic Web will allow a programmable Web to evolve. This also happens to be where Sir Tim Berners-Lee is currently focusing his energies, so he has an excellent opportunity to extend his impact well into the future.
The next prediction is the expansion of devices supporting the Web. This is also a somewhat obvious prediction, but one that has just begun to be realized. The PC-browser combination which is by far the most common method of accessing the Web will be supplemented by cell phones, PDAs, netbooks, consumer electronics, automobiles, appliances, home control and pretty much any electronic device that requires human interaction. Many of these, ex. cell phones and PDA’s, are already enjoying limited Web access. This ubiquity of access to the Web will impact both our consumer and business lives.
My third prediction relates to end user development. Web 2.0 extended the creation of content to end users. However, the creation of Web applications is still mostly a developer task. Innovations in mashup technologies and Web Oriented Architectural approaches will enable the average end user to build Web applications. Cloud computing platforms will deliver the environment for these applications to run.
My final prediction is for the growth of cloud computing. While cloud computing is not entirely Web-centric, the user experience for cloud computing *is* Web-centric. A vast array of business and consumer services will be available via cloud computing, and this will significantly drive access to and innovation in the Web.
These four predictions will manifest themselves over the next decade. As to the following decade, the crystal ball gets a little cloudy (pun intended). What do you think?