Emerging Technologies

The Next Decade is the Cambrian Explosion of CyberSpace

From Paul Saffo’s essay on Farewell Information, it’s a Media Age

The next decade is the Cambrian explosion of cyberspace, and like the Cambrian explosion 4 billion years ago, most of these novelties will go extinct as quickly as they arrive, but the minority that survive will have a disproportionate impact on the shape of the web – and our lives – in the years to come.

Paul argues that media is the organizing principle, with a difference.

In the TV era, it was hard, if not impossible to participate, but now in the new world of personal media, the exact reverse it the case: it is hard to merely be a bystander.

On intertwining of the Cyberspace with real space…

Combine wireless connectivity with position awareness, GIS and other sensor technologies, and it is obvious that the symbolic world of cyberspace and the “real” (physical) world will deeply intertwine. In a decade or so, we will take it for granted that there is an invisible cyberspace overlay atop everything we see in the physical world, and we will count on that overlay to help us navigate through life.

Possibility of new applications – endless:

Once your phone or handheld knows where you are and is in constant touch, the possibilities for new and stranger applications is endless.

Shift from product to subscription and the blending of products and services:

Obviously the web’s evolution will have a huge impact on business models and in more than one dimension. But one aspect is especially interesting. The seemingly tired 1980s notion of the “service economy” may come to pass in surprising ways as the web enabled a transformation of products into services.

The subscription model neatly encapsulates what is really going on here. The notion of “service” is as dead because it assumes there is a clear distinction between product and service. In fact, product and service are blending into something new and so deeply integrated that one can no longer tell where the product stops and the service begins.

A shift – From few and large to many and small:

We have replaced the big company monoculture with a new creator-centric business ecology in which the success of the big players is directly dependent on the participation and good will of multitudes of small players.

From consumers to creators:

Blogs are but the most prosaic indicator of this trend, with more interesting examples elsewhere. Once upon a time, encyclopedias were written by professional writers and editors; today they are created by amateurs logging into wikis like Wikipedia.

This essay is almost a year old, but almost reads as if it was written yesterday.