The web and the Internet as we know can be traced back to 1999 when Al Gore created it. Even if we discredit Mr. Gore’s claims and credit Tim Berners-Lee as the inventor of the world wide web, that didn’t happen until 1990.
We throw around terms like Web 2.0 and Web 3.0. Undoubtedly the Internet is changing our lives in numerous ways and rapidly evolving. However, it is still in its nascent stage and not one of us fully understands the ways in which the Internet will evolve.
The invention of the steam engine changed the course of history and brought about the Industrial Revolution. It was first patented in its most primitive form in 1698, but it did not have a measurable impact on society as a whole until 1760 – and through the Industrial Revolution in the late 1700s to mid 1800’s. Similarly, we are still looking at the early infancy of the internet: its full capabilities have not been yet been explored, exploited or fully understood.
It is my personal belief that in order for the Internet to evolve to its full potential, the generation of children who, since birth, have been exposed to it, need to enter the workforce. This generation, fueled by this diet of technology on steroids, should emerge in the next 10-15 years or so. For now and for far too long, we have had the old stalwarts of various industries approaching the Internet with metrics that were designed for the offline world. Think square peg in round hole.
When Beethoven was composing his music, the conductors of the day complained, insisting, “Maestro, we cannot play this music. It is too difficult,” to which Beethoven, refusing to alter a single note, replied, “I did not write it for you.”
I watched my friend’s son successfully interact with an iPad and iPhone. He was just under 18 months old. At the time I was flabbergasted, but now it’s commonplace. We have all seen the video of the child frustrated when trying to swipe at a magazine, thinking that it was a tablet. The conceptual framework of how technology works is innate to this generation and when they enter the workforce, the real potential of the Internet will be seen. Get ready for the ride as the new digerati emerges.
The silver lining is: if you wait it out, finding a technical co-founder will no longer be a challenge. A colleague of mine suggested that coding will soon be just another proficiency test that’s given. And she is right.
In the grand scheme of things, we are presently at around web 0.5. Just remember that when you dare to challenge the norm and are inspired to “innovate.” Entry costs of technology are going down, leading to too many “me too” models. It’s now routine for an entrepreneur to refer to his/her startup as “The Warby Parker of” this and the “Etsy of” that. The theory of Moore’s Law should lead us in a different direction, when coupled with true visionaries who are not afraid to walk alone.
When we took Apple’s suggestion and thought different, the needle moved. Now it’s time to think differently. It’s no longer about simply disrupting industries: it’s when our very thought processes have been disrupted that we will unleash the true powers of this technology that we have created. That’s when the Digital Age will truly begin.