Introduction to the Internet
(You can download a
containing an up-to-date version of these files)
9 The Internet's future
I was going to write in some detail about the direction the Internet was
heading. However, this section would age more rapidly than any other as
predictions became reality or sad jokes.
So here are some safe bets.
- The number of people will continue to grow. Historically the Internet
has doubled in size every 10 months. This may slow down, but it's
- More interactivity. People don't want static HTML pages any more.
So more interactive pages will come, with audio, video and perhaps
more usefully page animation. Expect pop-up menus and self-refreshing
- More commerce. At the time of writing most people make money out of
the internet through advertising. But sites are starting to sell product
via the Net, with some like www.amazon.com becoming a serious rival
to traditional outlets.
- Net cash. Some form of electronic cash will be necessary to trade
Internationally. Paying a few percent on credit cards and foreign
currency transactions will drive people to use a universal, Net-based
electronic form of money. Millicent and Mondex are ones to watch.
- I was going to say the Net would become more ubiquitous. It already is.
It's getting rare these days to see an ad in traditional media that
doesn't offer a web address. Sell shares in any companies that don't :)
- Advertising. There's still more to come. Recent developments have included
Geocities (one of many sites that offers free web pages) popping up windows with
adverts to all visitors. This has been met with a certain hostility.
- Software services. All software services will be on the Net. End of
- Set-top boxes. Again a prediction that is now a reality. Web-TV offers
a set-top box that turns your TV into an Internet browser. This makes
home shopping even easier, as now you can enter your details into the
Internet page without even having to call an operator. More and more
services will be sold this way, with the "shopping basket" metaphor
already well established on many sites.
- Software distribution. You buy your software over the Net. You download
it over the Net. You get updates over the Net. If it's Microsoft or
Netscape the help files are accessed over the Net (I hate that personally).
You report errors over the Net. You read about patches and bug fixes on
the Net, and you download these too over the Net. And if it's a game
you play deathmatch with other people via a Net games server.
- Newspapers. Most newspapers have a Net presence. Increasingly there
are newsletters, Gazettes and papers that are being created solely for
the Net. The advantages are larger audiences, better targeted readers
and the ability to customise the paper to contain only things that
interest you. All this and you don't get ink on your hands, and it's
as near as dammit free. Advertisers love that sort of profile.
© 1997-1999 John A Fotheringham and
Last Minor Update : 4 December '99