We forget that we live in the future.
The modern world is bizarre. Just watch this Al-Jazeera story about Otis Johnson, who was released from prison after 44 years into an almost alien world. He was puzzled at how people manage to walk around while they constantly looked at their phones.
But before that, he noticed everybody was talking to themselves. After a closer look, he saw they had “things in their ears” — earbuds. It reminded him of spies working for the CIA.
We’re going to get more connected every day. According to Statista, there are around 2 billion smart phone users in the world — and growing. Facebook and Internet.org are partnered with the mission to bring internet access to everyone in the world.
Moore’s law states computing power grows at an exponential rate every year. That law is working hand in hand with Metcalfe’s law, which states the more people there are in a network the more valuable it becomes.
So, smaller and more powerful devices are working together to build bigger and more powerful networks.
Most these networks will provide people free apps and products, and if they’re free, that means you’re the product — voluntarily letting someone spy on you.
Companies like Facebook who are working to bring the internet to the masses will use it to grow their already huge stockpile of personal information to target ads at us more and more efficiently.
Meanwhile, advertisers will work around ad-blockers in an arms race to get our attention and the attention of the billions who will start using the internet in the next few years.
It will get harder distinguish what’s an ad and what’s not with the nascent field of content marketing always blurring the line between advertising and genuine content.
This means advertisers will use multi-pronged campaigns to build brands through repetition without audiences noticing they’re being targeted for advertising. Meanwhile, lawmakers will struggle to regulate these new advertising tools, especially in underdeveloped countries.
So, just like we don’t realize how far we’ve come, we don’t know how far we’re going to go. One day we’ll probably look back on our new iPhones the same way we look at Windows 95, or even a horse and buggy.
The future of media is unpredictable, but one thing is for certain, as new technologies springing up and vast swaths of people get access to the internet, soon we’ll start feeling like Otis Johnson.