Technology changes. Everything changes.
Within 5 years TV and Radio will be dead. The Net will take over their functions. The Mass Media as we know it will be finished, and that’s a good thing. Media needs upgrades.
I’m going to make some conservative predictions here, and I don’t have any special authority, so go out and do the research yourself.
1. The Net will get faster (no shit)
The Net will get fast enough to stream DVD quality video within 5 years. I actually think more like 2, but I’m being conservative here. All TV/Movies will be streamed to Net-Enabled Devices. Wall-Screens, Cell-Phones, Wristwatches, Refridgerators, Teeth, whatever. Don’t think for a minute this shit isn’t getting faster. It’s be wireless too, so it will be everywhere. Our kids will look at the Net circa 2003 the same way we look at the telegraph. Seriously, your kids are going to laugh at you.
2. The Net will be self-supporting
The most sustainable Network-Model is a decentralized network. If you have 4 billion Media consumers and the producers are 3 or 4 big corporations (ie AOL/Time-Warner/Merger/Merger) you will get bottlenecks. You can’t push that much traffic through that few nodes. The system will be stupid slow and it will crash. However, if each Consumer is also a Producer then you have 4 billion consumers and 4 billion producers, and that is a sustainable Network. It’s fast as fuck and it won’t crash.
This is a Peer-to-Peer Network (like KaZaA Lite). All those Songs and Movies you download get shared with other people automatically, which makes the system mad efficient and sustainable. When you consume you produce at the same time, it’s automatic. It’s a d-good idea.
Decentralization is also the principle behind Grid Computing, a technology that promises to assemble all the little computers on the Net into one giant supercomputer that will make today’s supercomputers look like pocket-calculators. The Net as Grid Computer will also support Artificial Intelligence (huge neural networks capable of independent learning).
3. Reality TV will take over (but it’ll suck less cause more cool people will start doing it)
Who needs to simulate an Emergency Room or NYPD Blue? You could just film the real people. And get funding that way, whatever. Have you noticed that the most popular sitcoms are … normal people living pretty normal lives. The Cosby family, sitting on the couch. Friends… living in New York. Why settle for people pretending to live in New York and do nothing… when you could watch real people living in New York and doing nothing. Real life is really interesting, and there’s some crazy real shit going on. That’s a lot of productive power, and it’s fun to consume. Is Paris Hilton in your Spam?
3. The Net will break down into Local-Area-Networks
I’ll be on a LAN with my friends and family to share photos, videos, music, life. The Net can’t stay a big common space. People have evolved for smaller social groups, tribes, like. Neural Networks will mediate the complicated social factors involved in who gets to see what information, ie Taylor wants to see the photo of our friend peeing on the police station last night, but nobody else needs to see that. The design of those Neural Nets is slightly complicated, but the first comprehensible stage would be, allow Taylor access to photos that Face Recognition recognizes him in, but not necessarily other photos. This is the most understandable application of LAN technology. It will also serve political and economic ends, some LANs functioning as de facto nation-states.
The Net won’t be a big dirty Spam and Pop-Up filled commons anymore, it’ll break down into Local-Area-Networks. Which is a return to its original design. The only reason the Net still feels like Mass Media is cause old people cling to Mass Media biases. Future generations will not have these biases.
4. Artists will get paid
Cheap and fast Music on the Net will lead to an explosion of Independant Artists living on tips and favors from their fans (patrons) – or just linking by virtue of having access to thousands of consumers (a resource that other people are willing to pay for). Music will be free and Artists will get paid because fans love Artists. Cheap and fast Video on the Net will lead to an explosion in Video Blogs (Reality TV) and documentation of Real Stories, which are more interesting than fiction. Artists will be paid in the same way, paid directly, and they will be able to eat. A middle class of Artists will emerge out of the current Third World mess of Millionaire Superstars and Starving Artists and nothing in between.
5. People will have the power
On the Net individuals have a voice. I have a voice, indi.ca, which is just as accessible as nytimes.com. That’s amazing, and it’s only getting better. People will be able to organize to defend their freedom against oppressive Corporations and Governments. The Net is, by nature, interactive. Unlike Mass Media, you are not just a consumer. You can produce and consume, and this is better for humanity.
6. Google will eat your babies. Nah, I’m fucking with you.
I was going to rant against die-a-RIAA and Clear Channel and SCO and all the Big Business douchebags causing trouble right now, but in the scope of this coming century they are very very small fish. I don’t doubt for a minute that the future is going to be great. We are emerging out of Media Feudalism, where a few wealthy property-owners own everything and everybody. The Net is giving power to People, and we are moving towards Democracy. Greek Democracy lived in the Forums, in the Common Spaces where people shared information and debated, as peers. The Net is our commons.
As a caveat, it’s hard to even think beyond the next 5 years, but there are general patterns to history. The most prominent pattern is that the future is going to be fucking crazy. If you ask Genghis Khan what he thinks of us now he’d be like, ‘you’re fucking crazy’. That’s just how it is, the future’s going to be fucking crazy, but only to people from the past (which is what we will be soon enough).
I’ve read and researched a lot and I personally have no doubt that we are on the verge of a Revolutionary Change in human history. It’s statistically impossible that we could avoid such a change. All of our ancestors have had to deal with changes that fucked they whole shit up.
Discoveries of the past decade suggest that many of the most important world networks – economies, political systems, ecosystems, and so on – are poised perpetually on the very edge of instability and tumultuous upheaval. As a consequence, it is something akin to a universal law of nature that the course of history must necessarily be punctuated – and quite frequently – by seemingly inexplicable upheavals.
This is a theoretical point about the character of history – that we should expect long periods of relative calm and gradual change to be punctuated by staggeringly overwhelming events that totally reshape the social and political landscape.Mark Buchanan (former editor of Nature and New Scientist)
As an added little bonus, the pace of technological growth we’re experiencing is far faster than anything our ancestors experienced. I’ve studied this shit since I was 17 and I think it’s mathematically obvious that the growth of technology is exponential.
I believe that we’ll reach a what’s called a Singularity within the next century,
technological change so rapid and profound it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history. The implications include the merger of biological and nonbiological intelligence, immortal software-based humans, and ultra-high levels of intelligence that expand outward in the universe at the speed of light.Ray Kurzweil, inventor of first scanner, text recognition, voice synthesizer, etc.
Anyways, I’m pretty sure things will change. A lot of people are scared of this, but all I got to say to that is that the future isn’t about you. Your kids will roll with it just cause they don’t know any different. Humans are inherently adaptable. We can deal with it. It’s just that all this last generation of Feudal Lords that don’t even use the Net has got to bitch and sue all the way down. In the scope of history, however, they are minuscule.
PS. I’m not crazy and I don’t mean to scare anybody.