In the next 10 years+ we’re going to see some incredible things happen to this internet—this unfathomably vast, accelerating and still very infant technology. We just wrote a three-part series about the death of the business website and the future of online marketing. You can read the first article here; however that series was tailored to businesses. After thinking so deeply into it, we had several big ideas that we predict will change the web forever. So we thought it was neccesary to write this article dedicated to giving you a glimpse into the future. Basically, what we have to look forward to is an increased immersiveness in the content and structure of the web. We will also see the webpage take a backseat to new mediums of content. And our way of organising the incredible volumes of information we access should become far more sophisticated. However, we will continue to trade autonomy for these exciting new features.
Algorithmically Generated Videos
It seems like a far-flung notion–that the website will start to take a backseat roll–considering that the website has been the undisputed cornerstone of the web since the beginning. As the web is a network of interconnections, websites are the nodes in that network. But that notion started to change in 2014 when Google began testing what is now the fastest way to get an answer online: Google Cards. When you type in ‘moon landing date‘, the first result is now a ‘card’ that immediately tells you: 16 Jul. 1969 – 24 Jul. 1969. No visiting of websites required. There is another card of key details of the Apollo 11, and another card of similar questions that ‘People also ask’. Google mines this data from websites and then lists it in a way that bypasses the website so you never even visit it (and the source website isn’t quoted). Google is killing the website–as strange as that sounds.
Into the future, Google will increasingly use AI in its search algorithms. It’s cards will become more informative, specific and comprehensive. When you can browse the web by just clicking from card to card, that will be the death knell of the website. Websites will become increasingly tailored towards Google’s web crawlers by just listing facts rather than having the design and meticulous copy of present-day websites. We at dLook actually have started offering this new kind of ‘website’. It’s called a dLook My Listing and you can get a free My Listing of $295 value for free if you get ahead of the competition today. This is a way to prepare for the future of SEO that to our knowledge, no one else has yet caught onto (at least not publically….).
And cards are already extracting the richest content from the web. They contain images and even basic applications. Text is not the fastest way to give people information. Because our brains are so much more stimulated by audiovisual and interactive content; and hence we enjoy to consume information in these formats. Which yields the obvious conclusion:
Google will become a generator for video content. Its algorithms that interpret your search will no longer just list links in order of relevance and it will go far beyond compiling a list of simple facts. It will compile images, sounds, videos and text from the web into a unique film that is tailored to your search. How cool is that! (It’s like Neuromancer.) Your My Listing pages will feed content into these videos, and objects in the videos will be clickable–so people will be able to easily visit your webpage if they want to, or they can just sit back and take it all in.
It’s easy to see how auto-generated videos change the entire way we use the web. Users will be able to interact with videos to jump from one video to another. They will be able to adjust length/depth of the video and click to see more. The web will become an immersive visual world. In fact, we predict that Google will make the entire first page of its search results look like Youtube–with social integration.
The positive outcome of this is that research will become more efficient. Imagine selecting multiple links and/or files and having Google generate a video out of them. Hopefully it will have that feature. And we can’t forget the main positive which is just that web browsing will become so much more fun and relaxing.
But there are negatives. We will forfeit our control over the information we consume increasingly to Google. We may also have more trouble discerning fun and interesting content from that which is useful.
There is also one major obstacle to creating this technology: it is processing power. Will Google amass the astronomical processing power requirements or will the average PC be powerful enough to generate these videos fast enough? My prediction is that unique and dynamically generated Google videos will take many years to arrive. In the meantime, Google’s bots will work to generate some standard ones.
Visualising The Web Landscape
The internet is so huge. It is enormous. It is far, far greater than we can even imagine with our minds and even the simplest search yields a corpus of results that requires the technology of Google to order in any manageable way. But there are a few limitations to Google’s current approach:
- By saying ‘About 47,600,000 results (0.53 seconds)’, it actually gives the user no way to see how vast the results are with our human minds.
- It only shows you the results it thinks you want, it doesn’t show you landscape of other results. And this is like the problem of the video prediction–it is a way that Google is reducing our ability to decide which information we want to consume.
We think that with increased processing power, we are soon to see visualisation become a key feature of Google. There are many forms that this visualation could take, but we expect that it will involve looking down on a vast network in which the main topics are clearly visible, and then zooming in to refine the search and to reach individual webpages.
Things like this have been attempted in the past, but the visualisations have been too simple to be useful. We’re talking about an interactive map of the web that lets you zoom all the way out to see the (indexed) web as a whole. This is a dream that I expect many people have.
It will liberalise our access to the web, by allowing us to access and discern it with a new clarity.
And it doesn’t have to be overly mouse-driven even though it is visual. Eye-tracking technology could make this way of browsing the web even faster than using the keyboard. Furthermore, the possibilities for VR immersion in this form of the web are mind-boggling.
But will it actually happen?
Because, this prediction does conflict with the video possibility to a large extent.
The video possibility has more room for advertisements no doubt, however advertisements could still be integrated into this web visualisation, as long as they didn’t skew the form of the visualisation itself. Also, this visualisation would cause Google to actually lose a degree of power over people’s information; but as long as it isn’t trying to steer election results as some people suggest, then this is ok.
Your Own Personal Web
Bookmarks havn’t changed since like the 90s. They are still just a simple link to a webpage. Chrome introduced a beautiful new photo-gallery-like bookmark manager in 2015 which could have changed things a bit….if it didn’t absolutely suck. The problem is–and this is more than conspiratorial–that Google has no incentive to even give Google Chrome a bookmark sidebar. It has every incentive to try to phase-out bookmarks by introducing an infuriating bookmark manager because every time you use a bookmark, you don’t use Google Search–and Google loses money.
This is actually the reason why I think bookmarks are due to change. Because people need to save things from the web; but our current bookmarking system is just a mess. I have like >100 important bookmarks and then a trash file containing a trash file containing etc.
What bookmarks need to become is like web visualisation described in the previous section. They need to be viewable as a network of nodes connected on the basis of hyperlinks, topic, recency, etc. likewise. But they aren’t the entire internet; they are your own personal web.
If one day we can navigate through our bookmarks in a visual, immersive way; then this will make each of our own personal bookmark problems more manageable, even into a future where we will only be increasingly overwhelmed with content. And Google has the incentive to make this, because it would mean that we would be using Google Search even within our personal bookmarks.
Having It All
It is obvious how the visualised web and visualised bookmark ideas in this article go together. But, how can we have both a visualised web and automatic videos? My hope is that Google Search Results have the video and cards in a sidebar on the left and then the visualistion in the middle (and also a link to access the traditional link results). If you click on the visualisation it goes full-screen, and likewise for the cards and automatic video. Because these three new ways of browsing the web are each specialised for their own purposes and have disadvantages in other areas. It is the user’s choice as to whether they seek clarity, stimulation, quick facts etc.–and it is this choice that is key to maintaining autonomy over the access to our own information.