Sunday, April 24, 1994

The future of the Internet

OK, working on a business proposal for AOL's so-called "Greenhouse." My biz idea for the grand, glorious Internet future has put me in mind of that so-called future. And how grand and glorious it ain't gonna be. Gonna whip out my crystal ball right now ...

Hocus-pocus, blahblahblah. Shazam. OK ...

Here's the future, kids.

What happened to radio, TV and the fucking printing press will happen to the Internet. It's a pretty obvious prediction, but somebody has to say it.

Right now, the Internet is a big playground that's basically free (except for "walled gardens" like AOL). The reason is: talk is cheap. Most of what we do here is yap. Yap as in words. Mere text.

As fiber optic cable gets laid down and bandwidth increases, the Internet will open up to more than text. It'll get easier and easier to zip photos, video and sound files around. Basically, the wire leading into the computer will have the same capacity as coaxial cable. Thanks to Moore's Law, your 'puter will be able to process some heavy data.

As in movies.

At the same time, expect a repetition of the desktop publishing revolution in the world of video. Right now, a "Video Toaster" editing system costs around 5K. It'll probably drop to chump change. You won't need a dedicated box anymore; you'll have a video editing program on your computer. And (based on the Marching Morons principle) video editing will get easier and easier. So, desktop video will be born.

As a result, Users will be downloading TV and movies. (Music, too.)

And uploading their own User-generated TV and movies. (Music, too.)

And -- you better believe -- paying for it.

Somewhere along the line, the folks controlling the wire will set up a gate -- like that toll booth in "Blazing Saddles." We're all riding along on the big wide open West. All of a sudden, here's a toll booth. We need to ride back for a shitload of dimes.

The content won't be "free" any more -- in the same way that Cable TV isn't free.

At the same time, the content you pay for will be barnacle-encrusted with ads. Just like radio, TV, or even movies. To get to the cool stuff, you'll have to watch some shit that's selling you something.

The future of the Internet?

It'll be exactly like everything else.

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