In 5 years… (Digital Divide)

In 5 years is going to be a little mini-series dealing with emerging trends in a number of fields. Note that most of these ideas have been out there for a while. Where I remember the immediate source, I’ll reference it. Where I don’t, well, I don’t. (If you know the source, please let me know.) However, please note that I do not claim authorship for any of these ideas!

This isn’t about looking into the future, either, really. Instead it’s more to look back in five or so years to get an idea about our perception at the time, and either say “Hah! Told you so!” or “Ewww, this really turned out different, eh?”.

So here you go. Today’s topic:

Digital Divide. In five years,…

  1. Judging information quality will be a key skill. To counter information manipulation by interest groups of all sorts – and this includes commercial messages – it will be a key skill to judge the validity, source and quality of information. This will be a significant part of what we’d call web literacy.
  2. Ads will be for the poor. As ads will be the single-most important source of funding for otherwise-free services, they will become more and more obnoxious. We will have to pay our way out of ad-funded services: Being ad-free online will be a status symbol in itself, while using ad-sponsored services will become an indicator of low social status. This trend has long since started and will grow much stronger.
  3. It won’t matter who you are, but how fast your connection is. Society won’t be divided into strata based on education, age or ethnicity, but increasingly on web literacy and connection speed.
  4. The depth of information you can access and its interconnectedness will depend on your budget. The more you pay, the more inter-connected and context-sensitive – the deeper! – your online experience will be.While all users will look at the same website, they will see very different things depending on their budget.
  5. Basic protection of your privacy will become a UN basic human right. This right will be challenged often and massively, and we’ll have to fight hard to defend it. But it will be recognized as a human right.

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