Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




What will the web be like in 50 years?

I hit another site today that hadn't been updated in three years. What's most fascinating to me are reading throughts/rants/musings on what might happen when we already know the outcome.

Can you imagine if the web had been around in the 60's? Imagine reading websites by hippies, conservatives, mainstream America, or the rest of the world that didn't care about the US at all.

Fifty years from now, will people still be surfing via http and html? Will all the blogs written today still be accessible? ("Grandpa, who was 'Buffy' and why did you have a major hard on for her?")

Or will all this stuff be like Edison's wax cylinders?

Philo

Philo
Thursday, July 01, 2004

Won't matter. We'll all be underwater due to global warming.

optimist
Thursday, July 01, 2004

I prefer Armageddon in 50 years if my grandkids will be speaking to me in such a manner.

God Help Us
Thursday, July 01, 2004

if anyone knew the answer today, they would imlement the features today and beat the 'market' by 50 years. (discounted of course to get the Net Present Value).

Tapiwa
Thursday, July 01, 2004

I can't tell you what the web will be like in 50 years, Philo.  All I know is that I'll be happy if I'm still around in 50 years to find out!

Neural interfaces, anyone?

Norrick
Thursday, July 01, 2004

It won't be like wax cylinders because we will still have the ability to read the majority of old sites.  It's not as if the equipment needed to read an ancient site breaks down or is lost or used for spare parts.  The ability to reproduce the previous tools will most likely exist.

A more relevant question is this- is anyone taking the time to archive all this web publication?  If your page is on a single server with a single hard disk, it will most likely end up lost to history.  This is unfortunate because the web represents an unprecedented trove of views of the common man.

Think about it.  What survives from earlier times is mostly books that were important enough to go to the expense to publish.  For less structured and affected views of what life was like in, say ancient Roman times, we depend on the small number of surviving personal letters.

With the web, we have the potential to preserve an incredible amount of information for future historians.  Five hundred years from now our mutant descendants (or space alien conquerers) will be able to see how many pancake recipes 21st century man had available to him and what kind of kinky porn was in vogue.

Really some history department should create a web crawler and archive all this stuff.

name withheld out of cowardice
Thursday, July 01, 2004

http://www.archive.org/web/web.php

brad
Thursday, July 01, 2004

50 years?  Who cares man?!  We don't even know what's going to happen 10 minutes from now.  :)

But in the least, we can all hope IE (and all MS products in general) are free of annoying/stupid bugs.

grunt
Thursday, July 01, 2004

Unless we're in a science fiction survivalist setting by then (which would be pretty cool because we wouldn't need major movie directors to do CGI simulations of horrible natural events), I bet that computer technology would be incomprehensible to us now. My guess is that we can't even imagine what new applications would arise. IE: would a 1954 keypunch operator understand a data network?

Look at all the crap that has been gobbed onto telephone technology. Would someone from 1954 using their black bakelite phones with rotary dialing make any sense out of a cell phone with a webcam and downloadable Java applets?

Bored Bystander
Thursday, July 01, 2004

"("Grandpa, who was 'Buffy' and why did you have a major hard on for her?")"

"I prefer Armageddon in 50 years if my grandkids will be speaking to me in such a manner. "

Nah. They'll send a semi-naked 3D Holo-Buffy character over the syntspace link and be looking in to see wether old gramps can still get a boner from an old fictional character fantasy. They'll report the gory details of the "experiment", including embarassing 3D holoshots on blogger.com where it will be picked up by some geriatrics researcher and presented at a scientific conference, after witch it will be bought of the jobstudent running the projector for a few bucks and get national exposure on "America's funniest homeholos".

Just me (Sir to you)
Thursday, July 01, 2004

>> "Can you imagine if the web had been around in the 60's? Imagine reading websites by hippies..."

Aauugghh!!!  I hate damn hippies!  I hate Unix, too.  Coincidence?  I think not.

Anyway, there's a guy from Carnegie Mellon who speculates that eventually we will engineer our robot overlords.  I think that they will be commandeer the web.  We'll be lucky if they let us play video games.

anon
Thursday, July 01, 2004

Mmm... What will the web be like in 5 years? I just want to know if I should brush up my Java skills.

S.C.
Thursday, July 01, 2004

>Would someone from 1954 using their black bakelite phones

Since people who did use black bakelite phones are now using web-enabled camera-phones I think that they would understand quite well after a few weeks.

dot for this one YUO know
Thursday, July 01, 2004

>>..1954 using their black bakelite phones with rotary dialing make any sense....

There is this 20 year old college girl over here, who uses it on a daily basis _in addition_ to a "cell phone with a webcam and downloadable Java applets" plus email (HOTMAIL, YAHOO, Local ISP, now SPYMAC and HE knows how many more!) along with IM (MSN, YAHOO and two local flavours).

*All* at the same time. Even that I grant. But with sometimes it's with the same person! Christ!

.
Thursday, July 01, 2004

I think a person who lcould drive a car in the 1920s would be able to pick up driving a 2004 model pretty readily.  It is a bad way to predict the future by drawing straight lines through the past.  At some point technologies mature and then stagnate for long periods.  It may well be that PCs in fifty years are much like they are today.

If not, I doubt they would be incomprehensible to us.

Now flying cars, that's gonna be tough to pick up.

name withheld out of cowardice
Thursday, July 01, 2004

"would a 1954 keypunch operator understand a data network"

Yes they would. Next question please.

Stanley Lippman
Thursday, July 01, 2004

"black bakelite phones"

I predict those phones will make a major comeback in 2017 due to their sturdiness and reliability.

Fortunately, of the 70 million made, only 22,000 have been damaged or rendered unusable, and most of those were subjected to nuclear and chemical engineering testing. The people merely using sledgehamers have never been able to break one.

Stanley Lippman
Thursday, July 01, 2004

I want virtual reality porn.

me
Thursday, July 01, 2004

What I meant by "incomprehensibility" is - could someone from the present understand the purpose and context of a new information technology 50 years in the future, without immersion in the future culture?

Let's say you took a keypunch operator from 1954 and showed them a video of a few minutes of someone using the world wide web in the present day. Would they understand what was going on, by non interactive observation alone? Would they understand that data was being entered and then sent to a remote site, over lightning speed public networking, from a personal computer that overshadowed 1950s mainframes by orders of magnitude? Would they even get something like hyperlinking of symbolic information? (Remember, in 1954, a green round oscilloscope screen in a movie generally denoted high-techiness.)

If so, they could discuss amongst contemporaries the future "web" and discuss its functions, social and economic impact, etc. If not, they would see the web as simply a somewhat abstract future mystery.

What I'm getting around to is that it's probably fruitless to try to even think through what the form of future technology would be. We just don't have the context. Unless there's a disaster in between that sends us back to the stone age, it will not even be forseeable to us now...

Bored Bystander
Thursday, July 01, 2004

We still can comprehend black ink on white paper. In fact the de-facto screen on computers is black on white for information display. What's that? 500 year technology?

Technology's purpose will never be lost in comprehension. It is the implementation that will be advanced (or regressed). A 1954 mainframe programmer may not able to relate to .NET _as a process_, but certainly understand straightaway the end product.

KayJay
Thursday, July 01, 2004

Terminals (keyboard & monitor) will be reaplced with a neural socket I/O style interface.  In 50 years, I do not think this is too far fetched.  Scary, but doable.  Glad that I'll be dead.

hoser
Thursday, July 01, 2004

>>Terminals (keyboard & monitor) will be reaplced with a neural socket I/O style interface.
Much as it is romantic. No go. Not unless within 50 years food, shelter and clothing are removed from the Maslov hierarchy.

KayJay
Thursday, July 01, 2004

I worry that people will trawl through Google Groups for things to say at my funeral. :(

Thom Lawrence
Thursday, July 01, 2004

The web and software will be run by The Government. There will be strict rules for all parts of it, mostly implemented by automated devices. For example, there will be legislation that specifies how variables should be named.

If anything goes wrong and needs fixing, this will be done by Software Engineers, who are lowly paid workers like the Sanitation Engineers.

Wealthy people will live in gated communities, and will use web trawls and anonymity-busters to determine whether applicants are suitable people to join their community.

Hoping to stay anonymous, but recognising power of search
Thursday, July 01, 2004

There will be no web.

Evgeny Gesin /Javadesk/
Thursday, July 01, 2004

What happened to flying cars? I thought we were supposed to get then in year 2000.

Anon
Thursday, July 01, 2004

The web will exist, but democrats will have imposed so many web taxes that only Al Gore will be able to afford to use it - and only becasue it is a courtesy to him since he invented the internet.

anon
Thursday, July 01, 2004

Philo, there are dreamy predictions and there are unavoidable changes.

We will have electronic (micro)payments RFID because that makes the most sense.

The Web? That reminds of and old locomotive mechanic that I made up: "what will steam locomotives be like in 50 years?"

Alex
Thursday, July 01, 2004

"So what's your point, Alex?"

"Oh, nothing."

Alex
Thursday, July 01, 2004

50 years from now probably one site will open 50 popup ads and not just one, and you got 20000 spam a day not just 100.


Thursday, July 01, 2004

As they continue to circle the globe, most of the hoax email messages we read today will slowly change over the years to include more current references.  But essentially the same schtick just in a different medium just as chain letters made the jump from paper to electrons.

Lief
Thursday, July 01, 2004

> Anyway, there's a guy from Carnegie Mellon who speculates > that eventually we will engineer our robot overlords.

Are you maybe referring to Sun co-founder/vi author Bill Joy's article a few years back in 'Wired'?  (This article kinda scared me... )

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/8.04/joy.html

> Now flying cars, that's gonna be tough to pick up.

Actually, the flying car that's closest to production has been engineered to make the operation as foolproof as possible (considerably moreso than the earthbound automobiles of today) - navigation and collision avoidance are built right in:

http://www.moller.com/faq/#M400%20Skycar8

- former car owner in Queens
Thursday, July 01, 2004

My 50 year prediction:

Words/Concepts  in use:
    network
    node
    bandwidth
    service/license agreement
    offline

Words/Concepts not in use:
    JPEG
    XML  (actually, any current acronyms)
    web
    computer
    Windows(tm)
    digital

...I think you see the trend.

Colin Nicholls
Thursday, July 01, 2004

More from the FAQ on the Moller website:

" ... it is our intention that the volantor will eventually evolve into a completely automated form of transportation making you a passenger - not a pilot/driver ... "

- former car owner in Queens
Thursday, July 01, 2004

50 years into the future:

public static void Main(string[] args)
{
    Console.WriteLine("Hello World!");
}

Timeless, isn't it? :)

Joe
Thursday, July 01, 2004

Like usenet today, the Web will be obsolete, and something else will have superceded it.

Cliff Wallach
Thursday, July 01, 2004

What will books or magazines be like in 50 years?

With the web, it's essentially the same thing: basically as simple, and as intuitive. Browsers will run at some 5000x10000 resolution, other than that it won't be much different. Content and simplicity will still be key.  There're lots of technologies like Flash or VRML that could have transformed the web already, but they haven't and will never have.

Egor
Thursday, July 01, 2004

So Joe,

Is that Java or C#?

>:)

Alex
Thursday, July 01, 2004

50 years from now I don't know. But millions of years from now at least on earth there will be no such thing as "web".

Reference --> Future is Wild tv show

Philippe Jahan
Thursday, July 01, 2004

The "Human" is the Computer.
(web-enabled human)

Go Greece Go !!
Thursday, July 01, 2004

The Moller aircar has been "just around the corner" for at least six years, and I understand actually predates the modern web.

And Joe, shouldn't that be
"Hey computer, say 'hello world'"
"Why would I want to do that, Dave?"

Philo

Philo
Thursday, July 01, 2004

With a neural interface, the system itself would provide the nourishment (electricity), and the shelter (nice fat firewall) that would be the fundamental Maslov requirements.

Simon Lucy
Thursday, July 01, 2004

Alex -

Looked like JC#++ to me.

Cory

CF
Thursday, July 01, 2004

There will be a security hole in IE so big that your flying car won't start in the morning.

www.MarkTAW.com
Thursday, July 01, 2004

> like usenet today, the Web will be obsolete

Who thinks usenet is obsolete? I do most of my searching on Google Groups when looking for programming help. Google is currently revamping Google Groups too,

Matthew Lock
Thursday, July 01, 2004

Philo, I thin it's "I'm sorry. I can't do that, Dave"

bah humbug
Friday, July 02, 2004

Usenet ROCKS

www.MarkTAW.com
Friday, July 02, 2004

"I want virtual reality porn. "

The signature of an early adopter. If it weren't for these we would have had near absolute 0 technological progress.

Just me (Sir to you)
Friday, July 02, 2004

[G400:~] %has browse vrtp://xxx.hotsexycyborgs.com/

Warning! JohnAshcroftBot (Personal Edition) has detected an illegal operation and will shut you down in 5...4...3...2...

has
Friday, July 02, 2004

In 50 years from now I want my girlfriend to have the body she has today. And it better look natural, too. (BTW, she's 22)

RP
Friday, July 02, 2004

50 years into the future:

int WINAPI WinMain( args )
{
  Console.CreateModel( "22 yr old wife" );
}


Friday, July 02, 2004

Bubba You guys really are thinking that ahead!
I dont know whether I will still be around in the next 5 years or not.
By the way I am disappearing in parts...I am told.

Ashutosh Atri
Friday, July 02, 2004

>> like usenet today, the Web will be obsolete
>
>    Who thinks usenet is obsolete?

This discussion is not on usenet. I used to spend a lot of time following various noewsgroups, but not anymore.  Spam and being more difficult for newbies has shifted most discussions from usenet to web based forums.

Eventually, something that is simpler to use and more feature rich will make the web a backwater.

Cliff Wallach
Friday, July 02, 2004

That's exactly what makes Hello World so timeless...the languages come and go, but the code remains almost completely unchanged.

Philo -- someone still has to write the software to create the AI-Dave's of the world...even if it's another machine writing it...and ya gotta start somewhere :)

Joe
Friday, July 02, 2004

If we look at the past to predict the future, all of those posts on BBSs were mostly lost. USENET content was pretty much recovered, but most people ignore it. Maybe in 10 years we will have a new sort of web, were eah one has a private space in some server somewhere, to store everything. Photos, music, files, favorites, having access to it from anywhere and any device. So my digital camera would automatically store the photos there, and my mp3 player would play musics from there. We wouldn't worry about bandwidth like we don't worry about bandwidth when we use cell phones or watch TV. And the "web" will be acessible, but servers will be more and more rare, as most people  will just make parts of their private space public.

But what do I know....

Mauricio Macedo
Saturday, July 03, 2004

> Can you imagine if the web had been around in the 60's?

It's called the public library. Or your local city museum.
I was in Vancouver on vacation earlier this year and visited University of British Columbia's Museum of Anthropology (or something along that line). I walked by the totem poles with relative lack of interest until I came upon an archive of stuff. Ancient stuff, row after row, barely navigable by those who are fortunately enough to be thin (how it's possible in North America I do not know). I was walking through this forest of stuff when I came upon some hooks. They were made from sea shells i think or perhaps shark teeth. Someone had shaped them into hooks using a flint or a rock. Once you tie it to a stick with ropes and add a string you have a hook and line. For bait I suppose some left over fish parts too pungent to eat would do just fine.
Anyway knowing how a hook can be made by hand using nothing but what you'll find around you on a beach is totally useless to me. I use SQL Server Enterprise. So I think in the future, Philo, the web will be very very useless, but cool to look at when you visit the Museum of Anthropology.

Li-fan Chen
Wednesday, July 07, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home