Imagine walking into a mall. Awful, I know, but imagine something different for a moment. A mall made by you and for you. A mall with all your favourite stores; all your friends and family are usually there; your favourite movies are at the cinemas and playing on-demand; and any personal business you need to conduct is right there in front of you. Now, that might be a pretty decent place to have around… But it would be even better if you could take that mall with you wherever you went, and entered it whenever you wanted. Of course, this sort of a mall could only exist virtually.
The world is still mired in our Web 2.0 framework, and it’s a safe bet we’ll be here for a good long while. That’s not a bad thing. Web 2.0 brought online consumerism to the forefront with sites and services like Amazon, eBay and even iTunes. We all have the sites we like to buy from. Social media changed the way we connect with each other. LinkedIn for professionals, Facebook for friends, and Twitter for realtime messaging. TV, music, movies and most other forms of entertainment that can be digitized are available for purchase or theft, and only a few clicks away. For most of us now, our work is online; our games are online; and for bloggers, our thoughts are online.
But what comes next. I’m no soothsayer, but I believe we have a glimpse of what’s to come already. Look at the technology as it exists today. You have all your frequented sites tagged as favourites; sites like Amazon already remember your buying habits and showcase the items that may interest you; your internet is now on TV with your Apple TV or your PS3, allowing you to watch or rent on demand; and UI’s are getting sleeker and more interative daily – just look at iPad and Android tablets. Put it all together. What do you get? The mall I wrote about above. The way you’ll navigate (surf) may be like you’re controlling an avatar. The stores that will appear will be all based on where you’ve shopped before, and they’ll know exactly what you want to see in the windows. The people there will be your friends. It’s hard to explain, but imagine (if you’re familiar with it) the entire internet in the mall in Playstation Home, but tailored for you. Like I said, this is nothing that I can really predict with any degree of accuracy, but I’m writing it down now. Who knows what will come to pass?