Is it just me?
Are we all waiting for the next big thing to break? I left my safe, sensible job with a management consulting firm in 1999 to join an internet startup, and have made a living building internet things ever since. In that time, I’ve read Wired magazine pretty much every month. I’ve been lucky enough to work on sites with a lot of traffic, and I’ve had the fortune to work on projects that have won some awards. I’ve read a lot – Cluetrain manifesto, Funky Business, Jakob Nielsen, the Inmates are running the Asylum, the Agile manifesto, Futurica, Impact Mapping (I like to read).
I remember when Altavista was a thing. I dimly recall the age when Myspace was cool, and had a profile on Friends Reunited. I remember the thrill of my first Amazon delivery, and explaining the package to my boss – he refused to believe people would ever buy things on the internet. I remember my first Ebay purchase – a SCSI CD recorder. I opened my first hotmail account to apply for the job that took me out of the consulting firm.
So, is it just me? The current state of the internet seems remarkably static. The whole “social network” thing has been around for ages – Facebook became a household name 4 or more years ago. Big data is promising, but Facebook knows everything about me, and still manages to show me grotesquely inappropriate ads – I have held a motorbike license for over 2 decades, but somehow a motorbike I can ride on my car license is the best it can manage. Amazon kinda gets it right – but when I buy gifts, it all goes to pot. Google is a utility – the web is literally unthinkable without it – and smart phones and tablets have reached saturation point. Microsoft seems to have botched the “touch-capable PC” thing, but even if they get it right second time round, I’m not sure how much I care.
Internet “marketing” – retargeting, dark patterns, spam, search engine gaming, trolling are all making the internet a little bit less useful every day. PRISM and similar schemes should be instilling a healthy degree of paranoia in regular web users.
So, what’s next?