Ask And Ye Shall Receive

Where are computers and the Internet heading, you wonder? I know I do. I've tried to convey my beliefs in previous articles (see Controlled Concensus) but left things vague from a technical standpoint. Three advancements are occurring simultaneously that will play key roles in revealing the Web's true potential:

  1. Computers are becoming more powerful and personal with microscopic processors that perform nearly as well as full-blown PCs. The display and keyboard are current limitations, but we'll get to them in a moment. It is but a matter of time before anyone who wants to carry around their entire filesystem can do so like so much jewelry.
  2. Searches are becoming increasingly more accurate with relevant information returned in the first hit on the first page of any well-constructed query. They will get only better as tuning of keywords, titles and other aspects becomes standardized. With growing acceptance of XML, every pertinent word in a document will be labeled and categorized. Instead of looking for the right page and then reading through it, you will be able to get answers to specific questions immediately. (Yes, much better than Ask Jeeves.)
  3. Voice recognition software is becoming genuinely useful. Sure, it's far from accurate, much like text scans were just a few years ago. But in a few more iterations, your words will be transformed into digital automatically, thereby making everything you now do on the computer potentially voice driven. With such a direct means of input, who needs a keyboard? And since you're talking to your computer anyway, you might as well get you answers verbally. Install an earplug and there goes the monitor.

Within a decade or so, we will be able to ask for now obscure information while walking down the street and get it instantly. No, it won't be a fortune teller. You won't be able to ask, "Should I buy this house?" and get anything credible. But you will be able to find out the neighborhood's average property value, the city's violent crime rate, and the school district's accreditation level all before you finish your stroll.