The web was going to bring peace on earth, democracy everywhere and information for everyone. The age of the internet would change the world economy, bring everything global to local (and vice versa) and would unite the cultures of the world. Thus was the sales pitch of futurists, trend watchers and new media gurus for the past two decades. Things turned out somewhat differently. The web might actually be dead and tv might stand victorious after all.
Web 1.0: voyeurism
In the ‘dial-up’ era the internet belonged to companies, governments and (media)organisations. Us, the public, could search for and access information at a time that was convenient for you from several sources, that was about it. Well we could shop 24/7 but almost every webshop that opened it’s virtual doors is gone by now. This ‘new economy’ didn’t run so well if you didn’t have that ‘old economy’ thing called ‘logistics’ in order (I predict a future in which we no longer believe futurists).
In the 1.0 years we could click a thing here and there (some of us still even clicked a banner or two) to start and stop something but it was all still very passive. Others produced content for us to watch, read and listen to. And we downloaded a lot of free porn.
Web 2.0: exhibitionism
It had to happen. At a certain point watching other people’s privates wasn’t going to be enough. More and more people decided to share their own privates with a worldwide audience and this we called ‘user generated content’. Web 2.0 was born. Finally citizens could speak directly to citizens without governments and multinationals intervening. Online platforms appeared everywhere like a thousand blooming flowers. And what did we do with this empowerment? We became the mayor of Starbucks. We uploaded pictures of ourselves drunk. We tweeted about films we wanted other people to think we saw. And we ‘dugg’ video’s about other people.
Mobile killed the internetstar
Internet brought us the World Wide Web. And the WWW popularized the net. But the internet has gone mobile. And mobile internet access is killing the web*. When you’re on the move, you don’t browse or make a search engine query. Mobile browsers are a bit sucky. Surfing once again means that you get an oval-shaped board and hit the waves, not sitting down behind a computer screen. You no longer spend your online time on the web, you spend it on apps. And those apps tend to keep the content and information you upload to themselves. Or sell it to other apps. Obviously, spreading information, democracy and peace around the globe shouldn’t get in the way of making a buck should it?
*Apps are cool on your laptop or pc too of course, so let’s not put all the blame on your phone or pad.
Is TV here to stay?
Whether or not tv is ‘staying’ has a lot to do with the way you define ‘tv’. If in your definition ‘tv’ is a medium where a broadcaster decides at what times to send you unrequested content to watch (or not), then yes: tv is coming to an end. But that would also mean you would not allow television to evolve. It could even mean that tv was already dead when VCR was introduced.
Your television screen is becoming more interactive every day. It lets you use the same apps that are killing the internet, but on a decent screen. At the same time television will bring you high quality news and entertainment that advertisers and consumers are willing to pay for. And in the long run, the fact that someone has to pick up the cheque is important. If you want independent, decent quality news: independent, decent quality journalists have to eat as well. And as far as free entertainment goes: I can stomach speaking pets and dancing fat kids no more.