Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Life 2.0, Part 3

I am waiting for Web 3.0, which will ingrain itself into my real world in such a way that it will be virtually inseparable from my environment and approach a certain Artificial Intelligence aspect.

The Web 3.0 thing is a definite. I see it as the collective consciousness of all the information you can find on the Internet combined with your personal profile put through marketing and modeling software (algorithms?) to make predictions on behavior or even suggestions.

This is all dependant on our use of the Internet, which is becoming more and more prevalent. Web based applications are replacing locally run software. This idea gets us back to the mainframe model where your computer is simply a terminal slave for a larger, smarter, central computer. (Ever see Wargames?) But the larger smarter central computer in this case is replaced by a smudge of information across geographic and electronic areas.

Of course there will always be customization and personalization because that is what we demand but imagine a world where instead of choosing a system platform to run, you choose what site you will log into to do all your computing. Google seems to be heading in that direction and they aren’t the only ones who get it. In all honesty, I shiver at the idea of giving up my individuality to buy and pick and choose my software as I like for my own system that resides on my own hard drive locally instead of having an internet box that gets me access to a remote server that only looks like its mine.

This has been tried before but not too much success. Now with online video and photo sharing, blogging, and services like Gmail, this is becoming a reality. All a large company like Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Apple or someone else has to do is start acquiring all the little websites and making them their own. Oh wait! This is already happening. More and more, the graphical interface of the web is replacing what lies beneath.

Bit Torrent is a file sharing protocol where multiple computers that hold the same file speed up uploading requests and limit bandwidth consumption by sending bits of data over a wider distribution of files across multiple sources. That’s my understanding of the technology. As more people pick up the file the faster the download time since there are more bits out there to take from simultaneously. With technology like that and an ever increasing bandwidth, it will not be long before we can seamlessly share all kinds of data and files no matter how large, further allowing remote accessing and increasing the ability of storage space to become almost infinite.

If I have a virtual hard drive but the files I keep are merely images of what I want instead of the actual file, every time I want to access it (lets say it’s my favorite movie or album) the file is sent to me by this distribution protocol instantly. Would I know the difference between actually owning a file and just having immediate access to it whenever I want?

Is the next evolution a model where my children buy dumb boxes and the internet makes available for free, powerful applications and services like Photoshop, Microsoft Excel, Gmail and Youtube all for the simple price of having to look at some pop up ads? Or a small subscription fee? Perhaps the ISPs will start offering subscription packages to online software apps ala the current model for cable offerings.

Even better I choose a menu of items I want to access for a price per month that I can change month to month as my needs change. Do I need to retouch photos this month? Order Photoshop. Is it tax season? Order Turbo Tax. Is my child going back to school in September? Time to reorder my favorite word processing software. For a couple of dollars per month I always have the most updated and latest software version instead of paying hundreds ever time I want one or have to upgrade.

The software companies make out because distribution costs and packaging is eliminated in favor of allowing more users access to their software. Lower price points may translate into exponentially larger subscribers and legal subscribers, at that. How much does Adobe loose on all those pirated and copied versions of Photoshop? Or how many people don’t use it because the price point is too high but they’d love to have it?

Take a $500 program and charge $10 per month for it. Then offer it so that you are always able to use the most updated and latest version if I so choose (or I can continue using the previous version I am used to until I want to switch up.) I’d do it so that I never have to mail in a registration card again or worry that in a few years I have to fork out another $200 to upgrade to the version that everyone else is using or that runs on the latest operating system.

Do you want the basic broadband subscription with channels like Google and Yahoo along with basic photo editing, word processing, email software and the 500 Terabytes of storage? Or do you want the Silver package where you get all the search engines plus the Microsoft Office Suite and Adobe package of application subscriptions and the 1 Petabyte of storage space? Great, now wait while we scan all your appliances and stereo equipment for integration into our control panel web page. What’s that madam? Sure, you can control everything when you are on vacation or at work, just log into your account. Your kids will get the PG-13 version access as well.

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