Every so often magazines like Time and Popular Mechanics publish an issue that predicts life in the future. It can be exciting to read about predicted technologies, social attitudes and cultural shifts. The experts are able to put together very convincing arguments and scenarios that are a great read.
If you really want a fun read, dig up one of these "special future issue" magazines from ten or twenty years ago. Much as it bugs me I still don't commute to work in a jetpack and have never vacationed on the moon. What these magazines really tell us is what our hopes and dreams were back in the day they were written.
So having established that predicting the culture of the future is not really possible, I thought I'd give it a try anyway.
About two weeks ago I started using FaceBook just to see what it was like. What it was like is suddenly becoming addicted to heroin. I rapidly re-established contact with friends going all the way back to second grade. It was and remains amazing. You are able to fluidly socialize in a combined web environment that is like being at a party. Everyone is talking at once. Like a real social setting, the conversation is by turns profound, meaningful, silly and just plain fun.
So here is what I think the future will look like:
- People will establish their own social presence, workspace (wrong term--social space? FaceBook calls it The Wall) and networks like on FaceBook.
- People will have multiple tiers for their social networks - work friends, church friends, family, inner circle, political parties, etc.
- People will be able to electronically create "self organizing teams" of people who hook their workspaces together in order to accomplish a task (like SharePoint). This is how most employment contracts will be fulfilled
- Documents and other information packets will be encapsulated and protected by an internal security protocol, so if a knowledge worker has a work document and leaves it in the wrong context, the document maintains its intended audience (like SharePoint).
- People will use software on-demand, by the drink, as a service (or a similar term) so that they'll be able to switch between common applications like word processors depending on the context.
- Common applications will be interoperable so that each worker can use his or her preferred tool but still maintain collaboration with the team they are working with.
- People will enter and leave working relationships using a dynamic contract rather than an employment contract.
- Work histories, professional "batting averages", and value ratios will be availablefor knowledge workers much like LinkedIn. So, this week SharePoint programmers may be worth a base rate of $xx and next week it may go up or down depending on market conditions.
- Knowledge workers will be able to increase their base rate through ratings, testimonials, additional skills or experiences they possess.
- The point-of-contact between the individual and the cloud will be irrelevant, so people will be able to have their information, networks and tools follow them on their cell phones, X-Boxes, laptops, TV sets and Tricorders.
- There will be rules established so that knowledge workers can lay financial claim to intellectual property they produce that is over and above the scope of their temporary work contract. So the more innovative a person is the more likely they are to obtain ongoing financial benefit from their work.
- There will be loads of market niches open for small companies to fulfill. I imagine these will include applications that customize the look and feel of individual and shared sites, the ability to enjoy music, the ability to have modified work interfaces that look like games, castles or virtual campuses, avatars, games, banking interfaces, matching services that create dream teams of professionals according to some criteria, matching services that introduce buyers and sellers, and so on.
- We'll all have jetpacks. I just threw this in because it HAS to happen sooner or later, doesn't it?
Be sure to dust this off in a few years and see how laughably wrong I am.