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The way to get (really really!) rich

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Before the launch of the iPhone, who could have ever imagined the potential of carrying a smartphone that allows users to access the internet in similar fashion like how they do so on a desktop computer?

If I were to be able to correctly predict the future of the internet, I would instantly be a very very successful (and really rich) person.

And history has proven this point, as the top visionaries in the internet age, have all risen to be multi-billionaires. People like Mark Zukerberg of Facebook fame, Sergey Brin and Larry Page of Google, or even Steve Jobs of Apple, who totally changed the model of music buying with iTunes.

It is not hard to understand why it is difficult in to predict the future of internet by going back to history. It is simply because mankind have never experienced such revolutionary degree of connectedness on the internet. Take Facebook for example; human individuals had never shared that much information on themselves, and they do so for a variety of reasons never heard of before the internet age. This unprecedented degree of connectedness was something totally unheard of in all of human’s history of existence up to about half a decade ago. Then in 2004, Mark Zukerberg saw the potential in personal information sharing, and dramatically changed the way humans disclose their personal information.

So, while the internet provided a totally new infrastructure for information flow, it is the revolutionary ideas on how to capitalize this infrastructure that actually make a difference.

From the few benchmarks in the dot-com age, we can see the general evolution on how the internet is used. From the early days where Internet is used as an interconnected storehouse of information where users could retrieve and upload information into a shared domain, to interactivity where connected users could share information in real time fashion. The logical step forward would be trying to accurately predict what users want, and feeding them with a narrower scope of information to facilitate an even fast flow of information.

Why is this logical? Because from history, the internet as an infrastructure, was meant for connected users to find, retrieve and share information. It is still primarily the case in general currently. But with the evolution in the past decade, improvements have been made to better find and retrieve (in the case of google) and share information (in the case of various social media platforms like blogs and Facebook).

However, as more and more users engage in sharing, it becomes a challenge for users to accurately find and retrieve information they want, not to mention the creditability and accuracy of information they eventually get from sources on the internet.

Hence, I believe the next step forward would be the ability to predict and filter user’s needs during the process of finding, retrieving and sharing information. Pretty much like a know-all librarian who can point out the books you are looking for even with vague and incomplete information fed to the librarian.

The general direction seems to be pointing towards this direction, where the tech industry call it “semantic web”, where the internet becomes an extension of your thought process and accurately point to the information you need from the vast library online.

However, it is never easy to understand human behavior. While this may be a logical step forward, I believe this evolution would never materialize as fast as what we have seen so far. Although we have seen some baby steps already in place like Google’s approach to pageranking, as of now, it is not a fool proof approach, and like I’ve outlined previously; far from perfection.

But if anyone could get this formula right in marrying the prediction of human behavior and the internet, that person would be a really rich person in no time. 🙂


Written by garygoh

April 25, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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