Ebenezered part III: The Ghost of IT Future

Ah, this is the fun part. Because in this third part I will actually just letting my mind wander, I don’t have to be too accurate when writing this and in ten years time when someone asks me why I had it so completely wrong in my posting, I can quickly log in, remove this posting and ask with a dumbfounded face what the hell the person was talking about. Or, of course, when I wasright, I can claim that I am some kind of IT whizkid who just knows things. Simple. Hire me in your company for a exorbitant salary and maybe I will share some of my knowledge.

But then, I almost found it the most intriguing part of history that when you look good at it, understand what was going on that caused change in the past, you actually can predict the future. So, let’s grab the deLorean, fire it up to MPH and blast away…

When I talk to clients, or potential clients, I always tell them that my main motivation is that I am a lazy person and only want to do things once. They usually laugh a bit uncomfortably because, hey, is this guy actually telling them he is too lazy to work? Their project of course requires my full attention, so why should they hire me??? Then I start explaining that to make sure I only have to do it once, it needs to be well prepared, well communicated and what we build on needs to be solid like just poured massive concrete, or, well, the Mount Everest.

That usually makes them more comfortable, and then I get them through the elements of the project, how we can make sure it will work now and in the future. Because that is the selling point. Not that it still works in the future, but that new technical advancements, new designs in the future will only add to the site, instead of requiring a complete make-over. It gains me a happy client, and the client, in the long run will pay far less then having to rebuild their site again and again and again like, as you know, is now the case.

So, how can I make that promise about the future? Well, it is no rocket-science. In Part II of Ebenezered I described that the last 13 years no real new inventions have been done in the IT area that are really a massive change for the masses. I mean, computers on a technical level are working far more advanced than they did back then. But a site still runs on it. It still supports HTML. HTML will stay around for a while, probably another 8-10 years before it is not required anymore. Especially when W3-consortium is planning to release the official HTML-5 standard soon, we will be hanging on to HTML for a while.

The reason why HTML is actually re-invented is not because HTML is the new thing. Even HTML-5 is light years behind to the possibilities of ActionScript3 or Silverlight on .Net or even AJAX. But, it is needed. It is to be compared to your 100-year old house, that has a foundation problem. Because it has it, you don’t tear down your house and build it new again, you fix the foundation, with methods that are from now and not 100 years ago, to make sure it stands the test of time again. We need a new version of HTML.

Will it be successful? I highly doubt it. I think personally that the multimedia features of HTML-5 will be used by some early adapters, but that it will stay low. Adobe is lord and ruler over the look-and-feel department of almost anything digital, together with Autodesk. And every graphical designer, almost every one works already with Photoshop simply because it is a solid, and good tool. Most of them who are into web design are already using Flash, or if not, since the integration of both tools nowadays is so fluid, chances are people will keep using Flash instead of moving to HTML-5.

Will it be unsuccessful? No, absolutely not. But like I said earlier, the basis for HTML-5 is not the use of multimedia. It is to get HTML revamped and strong again.

Another thing that is worth looking at is what I got to yesterday, P2P. There has always been a market for sharing the things you have. You bought in the 80’s a new Aerosmith record, then you recorded it on tape and gave it to your friends. This especially started happening after the successful introduction of the WalkMan. Also with the early games, those Sierra’s I was talking about? True, I received some on 5,25″ Floppies before I bought them originally as memorabilia 15 years later. Sharing is not only because people want it and cannot or will not pay money for it, for the one that shares it is a social bonding. Not only showing they have something that other’s don’t, they also make sure there is an audience that he can talk with, or play with, since he gave him the game, music or movie.

It is weird in that way. I remember George Michael singing ‘What’s mine is mine and not yours’ in its society-critical ‘Praying for Time’ and actually, that is what is not going on. Worse even, we still look back thinking about socialism and communism as pure evil in the past, but to be honest, file sharing is a pure socialism point of view. Just like public health care and social security. Facebook, myScpace and YouTube and even this blog, it makes everyone equal to each other and able to share knowledge, experiences etc. They are the good things of socialism that Lenin introduced into Russia after the Red Revolution. And that is what evolution is about. You take the good things you have learned from history, and use them. Even if they were invented through bad times. Do I need to remind anyone that Volkswagen was created by Adolf Hitler himself? Also the whole concept of freeways? The V-2 rocket missile from the Nazi’s, who was in part designed by Werner von Braun, has been eventually partially the ancestor of the reason that we now can watch satellite television or listen to Howard Stern on Sirius|XM.

As they say, there are two reasons that make things successful; War and Porn. That is maybe then why the War on Porn is a weird thing. Anyway. Military needs usually get the funding for new concepts, designs and productions that are useful, required. The Internet itself was a invention creating with government financing for military purposes together with, I thought, the Cambridge university (but it could be another one). Porn on the other hand always paves the way for things that are fun, require passion. But it is because once there is porn, there is a market. Computers did not come into everyones household after porn was widely found on the internet. Of course, you don’t use it and I only have heardof the phenomenon ‘porn’ and never, actually, did some commercial productions with it (really, no, womenonmymind.com is NOT a site I worked on. Unless you like it of course).

It is even worse, most of my clients came to me after they knew that I actually, between projects for massive companies like FOX, XM radio, Broadway Musicals, dabbled in erotica projects. Those were the deal-makers, not the deal breakers.

So, with file sharing, because that is where this started, there is a market. There is demand. The cat is out of the bag and music companies and movie companies and game companies cannot get it back anymore. So, this will undoubtedly move to a very accepted commercial platform. You see it already happening with concepts like video-on-demand, music subscriptions etc. This will most probably don’t take so long anymore. My personal guess would be that in 2 years we have a solid foundation for a commercial successful file-sharing system. Not with advertisements, but with money or labor sharing.

The computer itself? Ha. I loved it that still people are talking about things getting smaller and smaller. But that is actually the only thing you can do designing computers. But for the common person, who uses the computer more than designing (for) it, small might not always work out. Are you using your smart-phone full-scale as a computer? I don’t. It is my computer away from home, and only if I really need it. I am writing this on a 16.4″ laptop, while I do my ‘normal’ work on a giant machine with three 22″ monitors. I don’t want it smaller! It would only slow me down.

So the laptops will get lighter, batteries will be better, resolutions will go higher and everyone will have super-dooper-blackandblue-ray drives that work best with our 1024-core processors. I still do not believe in 3D projection or us sitting around with glasses on hooked up to our computer. They have been around for such a long time, but it serves no purpose. Military wise, yes, which is also whythey are now around to be bought everywhere. Porn wise? Nah. Just like that 3D movies, although being released now often, simply do not attract the masses. With entertainment you want to be entertained, not to dress yourself up for it (unless it is porn, you want them to dress up for it).

Computers are just the platforms. OS’s will be playing that role more and more and actually run more on the background. I like it that my Windows is less and less in my face all the time. I am not using my computer to use Windows, or Unix, or Linux of OSX, I am there to use the applications, and the OS that supports those the best is the winning one. That is why, for me personally, *nix has no chance. OSX pretends to be too elitist and I pay more for an OS that support less. I like my computer to be VHS; it should do what it promises, it should do that well for a reasonable price tag, and the audience should be big so that people develop for it and make it evolve.

So, where are we in 10 years? Well, I think personally that websites on their own are a lot less, and sites are more a resource for content. Although I am not a Facebook or mySpace fan, it is what they do, deliver a template for content distribution. It looks horrible, but the first steps are there. Well, actually, HTML was the deliverer of that. Because, who was around in the early days of commercial internet, remembers that everyone had their own html horrible looking website. Wooohooo! That is what mySpace, Facebook etc. are doing now too.

Web sites will stay, maybe technically more advanced and in another technology (dish the browser, please!) but it will be more functional. Tools and advertisement platforms. Delivering for example a new version of a cloud-like platform.

SaaS will be big, but with a complete different commercial model. People don’t want to pay per use, people want to know how much they will be paying in the end. That is what is good about buying software, you can use it as much as you want. True, your costs per time of use are low, but in the end Office might cost you hundreds of dollars per year, far more than the $80 it costs right now.

And, I predict (or wish), in the game world, a full return of the adventure game! Wooohooo! Alright, that might be a lunatic talking here. And Bethesda does a magnificent job mixing adventures and RPG’s, but a man can wish that Ken and Roberta decide to fire up King’s Quest one more time for an old-fashioned game, that Richard Garriott creates one more time the world of Brittania or that Ron Gilbert himself will one again write an original Monkey Island.

Ah, a man can dream…

Happy holidays!

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