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How Future Generations Will Interact with the Internet

During the last two decades, the internet has had a profound impact on the way that we think about our relationships with information and our fellow global citizens. From online commerce through paythroughthenose.co.uk to social media, the internet has been a game changer for nearly every aspect of society. Although there is no doubt that the internet will continue to be one of the most important institutions as we move into the next few decades and beyond, many technology analysts are suggest the way that we interact with this medium may turn out to be very different from how we use the internet today.

At the beginning of the 21st century, most people used the internet as a resource to communicate with friends and colleagues and to look up basic information. For example, if you were planning a vacation to Disneyland, you might correspond with relatives in Florida, look up the weather outlook at the Weather Channel, shop around for deals on flights and visit the Disney website to plan out your schedule. All of this information would have been saved to your computer and printed out. When you get home, you might update your blog with a trip report or send out a couple pictures via email.

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Fast forward to the present day world of Web 2.0, and the way that you would use the internet to plan out your trip might look very different. Instead of email, you might start a Google Wave posting and invite everybody involved in the trip to collaborate with personal suggestions, links to deals on airfare, stories from local hotels and hot spots, etc. Friends and family members who have been on similar vacations might start sharing must-see Disney attractions or what to expect with the seasonal weather patterns. If you want to find a good restaurant in Orlando, you would visit a user generated site like Yelp instead of relying on newspaper reviews or Zagat. Rather than saving any of this information to your computer or, much less, printing it out, your would simply access and update it while you are on the go from cloud based computing services. During your trip, you could be updating Twitter with texts and pictures from your trip and continue receiving information relevant to your trip from your friends and followers. When you get home, you might upload videos of cool things you did and saw to YouTube, post reviews of the hotels and restaurants you visited and share your vacation pictures and stories on your favorite social media networks.

There are two important differences between these two examples. Ten years ago, we relied almost exclusively on major institutions such as corporations, news services and established reference sources for virtually all of our researching and shopping needs. Today, we rely almost exclusively on user generated content by average citizens who are providing reviews and suggestions based on their own experiences with no vested economic interest in the subject matter. Secondly, we no longer go to the internet to simply retrieve information to our personal computers or print out hard copies. Instead, we interact with the information we find by sharing it, updating it and altering it into different formats to serve our needs.

This is but a small taste of what is to come. As we move further into the new millennium, the internet will become less of a place where we go to retrieve information. Instead, the internet will be where we go to create content and share information of our own. Major institutions will have a limited role as the primary resources that both shape and create the internet becomes the common citizen as he learns about and creates the world to come. 

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