This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

December 9, 2009

The Future of the Internet

Our phones will continue their evolution being our primary devices for online access. Improvements in voice-recognition will be significant---especially for those whose hands are less able to operate keyboards. Artificial and virtual reality will become more embedded in everyday life, and the very architecture of the Internet itself will improve.

These findings reflected the beliefs of selected Internet leaders, activists, and analysts reported by the Pew Internet & American Life Project that we will see major technological advances. The Project asked respondents to assess predictions about technology and its roles in the year 2020. The panel of experts disagreed about whether this advancement will lead to more social tolerance, more forgiving human relations, or better home lives.

In previous Herman Trend Alerts we have discussed the important role of mobile devices. These experts believe by the year 2020, mobile devices will be the primary connection tool to the Internet for most people in the world. For the last few years we have been reporting the rise of the mobile platform. In many countries where the infrastructure for landlines is less well developed, cell phones are the major medium for communication. The widespread established base of cell phone users will support this trend.

United States President Barack Obama has long touted the importance of transparency. Technology will support the possibility of that transparency. This Project forecasts that "transparency of people and organizations will increase". Unfortunately, that transparency "will not necessarily yield more personal integrity, social tolerance, or forgiveness.

Other key findings include that by 2020, "voice recognition and touch user-interfaces with the Internet will be more prevalent and accepted" and globally, intellectual property law and copyright protection will continue to be a challenge to enforce, while others continue to find ways to copy and share content---without payment.

Divisions between personal time and work time and between physical and virtual reality will further evaporate with mixed effects in their impacts on basic social relations.

Expect the changing Internet to have new and unexpected effects on many aspects of our lives, as its user interface evolves itself into more elaborate systems.

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