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Emerging trends and the Internet economy

The third Internet revolution will be catalysed around the capabilities of the present world web, in particular location and other context information, said Gartner analyst Mark Raskino yesterday, Tuesday, 20 August 2008, at the Gartner Symposium ITxpo being held at Cape Town International Convention Centre.

Raskino said that compared with earlier web generations, it will include some new characteristics:

Connection to the physical world, including augmented reality and access to and control of remote devices that effect change in the physical world.

Context as a driver of our IT experience, dependent on coherent and persistent online identities as well as immediate inferred needs.

Instant, ongoing access to people and information that matter to us, possibly fostering unhealthy dependence and a "borg" mentality in some.

User interface

Although little has changed in the dominant user interface paradigm - the graphical user interface (GUI) - for nearly 20 years, a number of technology advances will start to change the interface landscape by 2010.

Large-screen displays are dropping in price and new touch and gesture input interfaces (eg the Apple iPhone and the Nintendo Wii) are creating new approaches to interaction. Mobile phones and music players will incorporate contextual knowledge about owner, profiles, location and so on. Starting around 2010, devices will integrate information from many sources to deliver an integrated and sociable user experience.

After 2015, the so-called desktop will flow off the desk and into office appliances and the walls around the user. In this world of ambient intelligence, any non-trivial device will contain some degree of embedded processing and communications capability. In this new environment, the focus shifts from interfaces on individual devices to an "environmental user interface," which acts as a contextual user access and information delivery engine across multiple interconnected devices.

Social dimension

In his presentation, Raskino said that the second wave of the Internet is characterised by a social dimension.

“The focus is not on abstracted and structured business processes and transactions, but this time is on people, discourse and unstructured information. In maturity, the Internet has become broadband- always on - and connect nodes with considerable processing power.”

“Additionally, the users have matured with it to become a more comfortable, demanding activist. What we have today is a two-way street for information- no longer ‘business to consumer' (B2C) but C2B and C2C as well. This brings new opportunities and challenges in customer interactions, but also internally in the way we organise work,” added Raskino.

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