The quick rise of the prosumer is exerting great force on the social networks and platforms that depend on these users. As prosumers are empowered and generate more value their options broaden, allowing them to control more of their web and market environment through their participation.
The output power of individuals is increasing rapidly largely due to evolving web, information and other technologies. At the same time it's getting much easier to capture and generate digital content that can then return value through the web.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg observes that of late people are sharing roughly 2x more digital data about themselves every year. With better, cheaper video, audio, graphics, machinima, and search capabilities arriving regularly, this new content is steadily growing richer.
As the web market evolves, more value is returned to users through better ad pairing/serving, payment through links, personally relevant structure (i.e. social networks) and access to other data. Ultimately, prosumers (consumers that create content) gravitate toward services that give them the most and best rewards for their time and attention spent.
In a previous post I examined Six Industry Perspectives of the Future of Blogging. To build on these, here's a list of less frequently discussed environmental trends and potential disruptors that may also play a big role in the evolution of the field:
1. The LAW of ACCELERATING RETURNS: Yes, the costs of various blog-related technologies are dropping quickly, but you may be surprised by how fast this is occurring across pretty much all fields. Ray Kurweil's Law of Accelerating Returns is a nice umbrella paradigm for the lightning fast pace of innovations in areas such as computing (doubling every 18 months - Moore's Law), interface (high-end screens approach human visual reality by 2015 - Smith's Law), image capture (affordable Flip cams now come in HD), search (Google's database steadily returning better results for longer queries), speech-to-text translation (Dragon's high-end software already is 95% accurate. Among other things, Google's database of audio search queries will help accelerate this.) , etc. Though Kurzweil's Law may flatten out at some point, there are enough amazing developments on the immediate horizon to plan for a crazy decade that thoroughly transforms blogging.
2. EXPONENTIAL DATA: Parallel to technology, the total amount of data on the planet is growing at an exponential rate. Much of this can be attributed to the growing number of sensors and input devices (linked by the expanding web) that permit people to post more information online. If this trend is to continue, it's highly likely that it will be supported by a massive increase in blogging by humans.
3. QUANTIFICATION: As data proliferates, humans are incented to sort it all into meaningful knowledge. Much of this is accomplished by piecing together systems representations of different environments, locations, historical events, technologies, and human behavior. As it becomes more widely recognized that such quantification is economically rewarded, it's likely that much blog output will be structured to fit into such models (it already is - ie Wikipedia).
A blog (a contraction of the term "Web log") is a website, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order. - Wikipedia
To me, this definition is synonymous with the regular output of thoughts by a human brain to the web, organized by date, which means that blogging is really just a faster way to share ideas. As such, it marks a critical developmental step in our collective ability to process knowledge. And it is far from static.
As blogging spreads, the blog industry is also transforming due to evolving technology and market forces. These include a steady influx of ad dollars, more intelligent software and search, and faster computers, to name a few.
When contemplating the future of blogging, it's important to consider 1) informed industry perspectives on the topic, 2) environmental trends, and of course 3) the fundamental socio-economic role of blogging.
To start, here are some of the widely acknowledged visions of what's next for blogging:
BIGGER AD PIE, LOWER AVERAGE RATES: Morgan Stanley Web guru Mary Meeker has assembled data indicating that both ad impressions and the total value of the web ad market are experiencing strong growth, which is unsurprising as the world grows more intermeshed and more people start blogging. At the same time, she expects the average price of such ads to drop as inventory (# of websites and blogs) grows. These trends reflect the fact that more bloggers are making money through generic ad serving apps such as Adsense, ValueClick, AdBrite and Project Wonderful, but that the serious cash is being made by content publishers who reach niche population segments with smarter, focused content that can be paired with highly targeted ads. This seems quite reasonable and natural as content proliferates and redundancy increases.
CONSOLIDATION of the FITTEST: Michael Arrington, currently the #1 blogger on Earth, is working hard to build out his Tech Crunch blog network according to the assumption that, "The only way to compete with CNet [king of the top-down blog networks] in the long run is to group [proven] writers together. They should be better writers than CNet has because they are all competitive entrepreneurs with a lot of equity at stake.” (Bits Blog) Viewing things from the inside-out, Arrington backs the notion that a specific type of worker (the natural born output super-hero) with a specific voice will dominate the near-term future of blogging as they band together through formal corporations.
Movies sometimes have some pretty fantastical devices which we find hard to believe. There's the DeLorean from Back to the Future, the deneuralyzer from Men in Black and of course the holodeck from the Star Trek franchise. But some movies contain nifty gadgets and technology that seem simple enough to build or develop with current technologies. I mean, it's almost 2009 for christsake.
1. Safety Foam from Demolition Man
In the movie Demolition Man, Stallone's character John Spartan gets into a high-speed car accident during an electric car chase through the future streets of San Angeles. Instead of smashing to tiny bits, a foam fills the car and solidifies, saving his life and leaving him totally unscratched. It would seem easy enough to create such a foam (there might be problems with people inhaling it as it expands) so why the heck isn't it in cars yet?
2. Cold Fusion from The Saint
In The Saint, Simon Templar steals notes from a scientist which, when arranged properly, show how to make cold fusion work. While research into cold fusion technologies is progressing, it's kind of surprising there hasn't been a breakthrough yet in the field. You'd think someone could at least prove that it can or can't work by now.
Retro gaming is a bizarre phenomenon. Being a technology driven medium, games go through generations in just a few years. However, the differences between generations is more profound than technological advances. It seems that more advanced possibilities change the entire landscape of gaming culture.
Retro gaming is a growing trend, but it is becoming hard to define. There are so many generations of games now, all differing so significantly, that the definition of retro changes according to age, tastes, and personal nostalgia. It's not enough to simply say "Retro means old" any more.
The reason for this blurring of definition, is that games advanced so fast, that human creativity couldn't even keep up. To understand this, remember how old 8-Bit games had such primitive sound, yet the creators did what they could to make the sounds good. We still remember the old music with fondness, not as impressed by today's music that was created with no limitations.