My 10/11/09 Missoulian column
To finish up this long running “brief” history of the Internet, I’m going to take a stab at the future.
Any Google search will give all kinds of predictions, but I’m not going to prognosticate about the usual stuff, such as how social networking is going to take over the Internet (it just might), or how the Internet will develop a consciousness on its own and start thinking for us (which is something for a movie).
But very broadly, here are a few things that are down the road:
The “real-time” Internet will become more of a reality. Right now, it takes time for new Web sites, news updates and other changes to appear in a Web search. The real-time Web will bring up-to-the -minute results to the Internet.
Exactly when the real-time Web will come to pass is up for discussion, but the search industry is leading the charge in developing new technologies, as they see them as a money maker.
Another indication of significant change took place last month. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the organization that handles many administrative aspects of the Internet, ended their long-running agreement with the U.S. government and is now more independent. This happened after many complaints saying the control of the Internet was based in Washington, D.C.
This could mean the Internet might fork into different, smaller Internets, based on government controls. But others say this new trend toward universality will increase cohesion, because is will lead to a sort of United Nations of the Internet, where more governments and more languages will be supported. This will lead to Web site addresses (and more) being in Chinese characters and language scripts other than a Roman-based alphabet.
And lastly, I think some kind of broad Internet ID authentication system may come to pass. Right now, the old adage, “On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog,” still holds true. Who knows who you are really chatting with?
There’s no such thing as a driver’s license or passport for the Internet, but future types of Internet IDs might be tied to current forms of paper and electronic IDs.
However, because the technological and political hurdles of Internet IDs are huge, there are hacking potentials that could stand in the way. The Internet may remain an anonymous free-for-all far beyond the foreseeable future.