The Next Decade’s Media and Technology

The Wall Street Journal has an article available for free, online access (which is not the norm for all the paper’s articles, I believe) titled “Thinking About Tomorrow.” (Also take a peek at how the 1998 forecasters did in predicting this past decade.)

A number of writers speculate how technology will change the way we communicate and entertain ourselves over the next several years in the areas of shopping, gaming, movies and television, making and keeping friends, searching online, reading the news, and protecting privacy. Some of the predictions sound fairly obvious to me, like better graphic fidelity in games. Others sound like the modern-day equivalent of the personal helicopters and jet packs predicted in days of yore, such as replacing TVs with Star Wars-style hologram generators and making movies interactive the way video games are. (Please, people. I still can’t even afford an HD set.)

Somewhat ironically, one area that doesn’t receive much speculation is how media funding models will need to change. There is the usual note of concern regarding the leakage of private data to advertisers and the public at large, which I agree is problematic and already underway. I also think it’s relevant to note, though, that I don’t see a single ad when I visit this article online—just a couple large expanses of whiteness breaking up the layout, one with a little “play” arrow in the middle giving me the option to display a Flash graphic I have no interest in seeing. I, like most visitors on this site, I imagine, use a browser that blocks all pop-up windows, suppresses Flash, and effectively “disappears” banner ads. When this becomes even more commonplace, how will content publishers online monetize what they do? Many webcomics creators have relied on an enthusiastic niche following to support them through merchandising, premium content, and gifts, but not everybody on the web is running a comic-cum-fashion boutique with a dedicated fan following.

I’m curious how readers here evaluate the predictions made in this article, what kinds of predictions you might make yourselves—or, if you prefer, whether you such articles are an exercise in foolishness or futility. Please feel free to sound off in the comments or drop me a link if you blog about it yourself.

5 thoughts on “The Next Decade’s Media and Technology

  1. Are you sure that “play” button wasn’t for Stacey Delo’s man-in-the-street report?

    I’m wondering how many people feel the need to filter out ads. By and large it doesn’t bother me (there are exceptions, of course.) If the number of people who don’t really care is large enough, advertising won’t be affected too much.

  2. Oops—so it was. Well, I do appreciate that pages load faster when you can selectively approve Flash, anyway. (Now I must question, though, how much web content I am missing because every blocked Flash window—besides YouTube and Zero Punctuation—registers in my mind as “ad.”)

  3. I wasn’t impressed by this stuff too much. Part of it is that the world moves to quickly. Part of it is that there can be a moment where a really lousy, seemingly unworkable idea comes together and works. (I’m imagining something like Scott McCloud’s idea for micropayments–it currently is something of long stalled idea, but in ten years who knows what will change.)

    Technicially, Jason if you don’t know its there, are you missing it? (I ask only because, well, there is so much out there that you can’t take it all in and, probably, you don’t want to try.)

    As for my own prediction, in ten years I imagine that the internet will be even more taken for granted: ie, like we have the TV or radio on in the background, we’ll have the internet “on” in the background and, individually, decide when we are going to pay attention to it–sort of like when I watch Ferris Bueller’s Day Off on cable waiting for the good bits (oh that principal! He really didn’t like Ferris).

  4. Jason, as an iPhone owner I can say you’re probably missing a fair bit (the Jesusbrick doesn’t do Flash.) There are pluses and minuses to that fact, but it is an altered experience.

    Chris, I’m already there (which is why the ads don’t usually bother me.) Frankly, I’m amazed that any place can support itself with ads, based on my buying habits. I always feel guilty when I buy something directly that I first saw advertised on another site, but I usually can’t find the ad on that site again.

    Oh, and Scott’s micropayment idea won’t ever take off. Once you get down to ‘micro’ it’s an eensy step to free, which reduces overhead significantly. Best to use the free goods to leverage the non-free. As someone wisely noted, you can’t download a t-shirt.

  5. Church,

    I wasn’t lobbying for Micropayments (I’d think it was unlikely to take off too, but I thought that the DIVX model was dead too, but lo-and-behold Apple’s recent semi-revival)…I guess if I was predicting thing, I’d look that those ideas that were around and important 7-10 years ago that looked like failures.


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