I had a dream the future internet when I was 15 (more on that in a minute). Yes, that was 1998. I’d been building websites for a few years and had some relative success with freemania.com a portal for consumers to discover new products and services. All I did at that point was eat, sleep and dream about the interwebs. I spent so much time in front of the computer that my parents had to ration my time online.
I was utterly fascinated by the ability to connect nations, oceans, economies, cultures… I knew this new system of sharing documents, pictures and information was about to change the the world. I just knew it.
That was 15 YEARS ago!
Through all of the progressions and evolutions of the web, I’ve remained in the flow of what’s next. But, I’ll NEVER forget that dream… it was so vivid. Sort of like a dream I had when I was 11 years old.
I’ll relay my other dream first since these stories bleed into one another.
Dream #1 – Future Shopping Experience: I was in the grocery store with my mom and instead of going through the line, we just walked out with our cart. There was no cashier, no receipt, no checker — no nothing. But everyone understood that groceries had been accounted for and paid. On the way out the door, a price flashed and that’s how much the entire cart of groceries cost.
Upon waking, I asked my mom why this wasn’t possible. I remember my mom looking at me quizzically and pondering for a moment. We had a discussion about how this might be possible in the future.
In college, I learned about something called an RFID code. So I guess I still don’t understand why we can’t just walk out the door. I can bag my own damn groceries when I get to the car. And then I never have cart those silly eco bags around the store again. Of course, that’s assuming we have cars by the time they figure out how to make this a cost effective means of operation.
Dream #2 – The Future Internet: When you shop, you shop in a virtual 3D world using holographic representations of yourself. You can try clothes on, go grocery shopping and have sex without ever interacting with another human being in real life. In my dream, we all had our own world with friends we’d allow to visit us, social areas where we could meet new people and all of the comforts of real life through a virtual interface guided by arms movements, sight and voice.
When you move your face, the representation of you moves with your movements and directly mimics your expressions in real time. When you touch something, you feel it… just as you would in the material world.
Everything that you are in real life, you are in this virtual world, you just aren’t physically present to anyone else. When you walk out of a store with a new outfit on (which by the way, you try on using a body that’s exactly the same size as yours), you’re charged for it. And a day later a package arrives with your new outfit. In my dream, the internet was an experience unlike any other… a reality within a reality.
The dream blew my mind. I tried to explain it to my parents and anyone who would listen, but quickly realized that pretty much everyone thought I was completely off my rocker. I shut up and never mentioned it again.
Now, when I relive this dream, I get a little sad. The world is so connected through technology that we forget our own humanness in the complexity of an attempt to connect and make our existence more efficient. We forget how to interact and the world becomes increasingly selfish and uninspired by genuine emotion, touch… real connection.
In this dream, we don’t live on the internet all the time… but worlds do begin to collide and lines blur.
I don’t think any of this stuff is coming over night, but as technology changes… so will the internet. Currently the internet is flat. Once everything is in 3D, we’ll have a whole new set of moral questions to ask ourselves.
All of these thoughts were unearthed during a conversation I had last night with @NikkiEzelle AKA: Fembot, a guest at the Glint (where I’m currently helping develop the community). She is unlike most people I’ve ever met… in touch with herself with a pulse on technology. I was telling her about my dream and she took it a step further.
Nikki started talking about the possibility of becoming so overridden with technology that we don’t need our bodies, only our consciousness. And not only that, we never die. As we went through the story of how this could happen, I found myself questioning everything… including realities within realities. Are we really going to become robotic souls?
I think it’s up to all of us create a future where we’re conscious of what we are as physical and spiritual beings. Let’s hope we use technology to make us more of what we are and not less!
That’s one of the reasons I love the sharing economy so much. Businesses in the new sharing economy gives people an outlet to connect with their neighbors, consume less and save money… all the while using technology and the social graph to do it. I see this as an example of how technology can benefit our culture for the better.
The future internet isn’t going to happen overnight, but I think a great deal of it will happen in our lifetimes. Heck, we still don’t have internet everywhere and the SuperBowl was live streamed for the first time ever this afternoon!
What do you think? How would you describe the future of the internet — the future of technology? How do you want to see the future of the internet?