The Internet’s future is far too grand to accurately predict, but one thing is for certain: consumers use it, want to use it, will use it, they rely on it, and they depend on it.
As the future of the Internet continues to be planned, tested, and analyzed for optimum performance, one key factor should preside above all others: the issue of ubiquitous computing in relation to future generations.
In ubiquitous computing, the user is constantly connected to communications technologies, and the line between the natural and virtual worlds is becoming increasingly unclear every day. As more communications technologies are developed and users adapt to using more and more of them in their daily lives, the notion of being “on” or “off” becomes heavily blurred.
A typical day for the common user consists of checking one’s email, talking on cell phones, receiving and viewing the news online, and other forms of communications technologies preferred by different users.
In other words, typical users have combined both the natural world and virtual world into everyday lifestyles.
William Gibson states it best when he says, “In a world of super ubiquitous computing you’re not gonna know when you’re on or when you’re off. You’re always going to be on, in some sort of blended-reality state. You only think about it when something goes wrong and it goes off. And then it’s a drag…”
I really like this quote because it highlights the fear that people have about communications technologies not being available to them. Always being “on” has provided a sense of insecurity to people who can’t manage their virtual worlds and have instead let the virtual worlds manage them.
My concern lies with future generations who will be born into a society where life without some sort of virtual aspect is completely unknown to them. Wearable computing will become more common, allowing devices to curtail to life needs, and sensory computing such as temperature adjustments and light adjustments will be labeled as a type of natural occurrence, something that “just happens.”
It’s difficult to predict what type of effect this notion of always being “on” will have on future generations, but it is clear to me that we are about to see and experience a major change in the way younger generations view the world and those who live in it.
Submitted by Karen Kozmo Hartshorn, a student in Elon University’s Interactive Media Master’s Program.