Predicting the future of the Internet is easy: anything it hasn’t yet dramatically transformed, it will.

People love to focus on horse races:  NYC vs Silcon Valley, Facebook vs Twitter, IPO markets vs private exchanges, the valuation of some startup vs some other startup.  Like a lot of people in the tech industry, I’ve gotten inquiries recently on the meaning of Facebook’s “private” IPO with Goldman Sachs, whether VC valuations are indicative of a bubble, whether such-and-such startup is overvalued, and so on.

These questions are all footnotes that will be forgotten in a few years.  The Internet has gone through fits and starts – in particular the dot com crash of 2000 disillusioned many – but every year we see it transform industries that previously sauntered along blissfully denying its existence.  Already transformed: music, news, advertising, telecom. Being transformed: finance, commerce, TV & movies, real estate, politics & government. Soon to be transformed (among many others): healthcare, education, energy.

The modern economy runs primarily on information, and the Internet is by orders of magnitude the greatest information mechanism ever invented.  In a few years, we’ll look back in amazement that in 2011 we still used brokers to help us find houses, that doctors kept records scribbled on notepads, that government information was carefully spoon-fed to a compliant press corps, and that scarcity of information and tools was a primary inhibitor to education.

Thus far the US has led Internet innovation. There are things the US can do to keep this lead, including: 1) exporting the entrepreneurial ethos of Silicon Valley to the rest of the country (including places like my home city, New York), 2) allowing talented people to go where their skills are most needed (e.g. by changing US immigration policies), 3) convincing the upcoming generation to innovate in sectors that have a direct impact on the quality of peoples’ lives (Internet, healthcare, energy, education) instead of wasting time on sectors that were historically prestigious (e.g. finance and law) but add little to negative economic and societal value.

Predicting the future of the Internet is easy: anything it hasn’t yet dramatically transformed, it will.  People, companies, investors and even countries can’t stop this transformation. The only choice you have is whether you join the side of innovation and progress or you don’t.

86 thoughts on “Predicting the future of the Internet is easy: anything it hasn’t yet dramatically transformed, it will.

  1. yofrez says:

    I love this quote and retweeted when you first posted it on twitter. To stay ahead in innovation the US will also have put a deeper focus on education. Currently only 25% of our country has a bachelors degree or higher. In the information age we won’t be able to supply demand for tomorrow workers if this doesn’t change.

  2. emoses says:

    Really great post with good tips for policy makers.

    I think one of the limiting factors for the future of the Internet is the how well it interfaces with the physical world. Fred Wilson posted the other day about the huge problems/opportunities in interfacing between devices – and that’s just home electronics!

    The industries you cite that the Internet has knocked off were kind of low-lying fruit in that data could easily be substituted for ‘stuff’. At least one of the industries you call out as changing now (TV) and a couple of the ones you see as ripe for disruption (healthcare, energy) are going to require really clever solutions to how the Internet rubs up against the real world. After all, some people still needlessly cling to it!

  3. .. and it will retransform the things which it has already transformed and shall do so recklessly every couple of years. Bystanders beware while constituents re-provision their anandamide :)

  4. Chris, I share your enthusiasm for our bright future, but advertising is antithetical to the fully realized internet of wholly frictionless information. It’s also possible that, right under our noses, mobile broadband is being highjacked in the same way Tim Wu recounts television being co-opted by the radio industry and the federal government in the 1930s. We need to employ the current internet to keep us watchful and engaged on federal policy so tomorrow’s internet (it will be mobile) stays open!

  5. sey says:

    True, but your view is very positive about this . as the power and impact of the net grows, the energy organisations and states put into controlling it grows too. I’m german, and it truely scares me to think about what Nazi Germany would have been like with all the technology around. We will have to take a lot of care of the net.

  6. Thanks Chris,

    Happily the historically prestigious legal sector can also be added to the being transformed list.

    The likes of Legalzoom.com and Rocketlawyer.com are gradually enabling people to draft their own documents for much less.

    John

  7. Guest says:

    My favorite part, especially the bit about scarcity of information:

    “In a few years, we’ll look back in amazement that in 2011 we still used brokers to help us find houses, that doctors kept records scribbled on notepads, that government information was carefully spoon-fed to a compliant press corps, and that scarcity of information and tools was a primary inhibitor to education.”

    I hope also that soon we’re amazed that we were once not able to receive medical & mental health help over the internet.

  8. Chris, I used to think that you were one of the more thoughtful entrepreneurs, but I now see that you also have succumbed to the clichés. And one most obvious observation is that every revolution comes at a massive cost to human beings, revolutions always break more than they build. And this very glee by people who benefit from the revolution financially that allows them to close their eyes or not even notice this human suffering.

    This post is a Maoist jingle.

  9. Andrew McCann says:

    Good post. However I would argue that we need to convince upcoming generations to rethink finance not ignore it completely. It is the finance industry that needs change so badly. And though I would agree that finance was (is still) historically prestigious, that does not mean it adds “little to negative economic and societal value.” Our economy is a reflection of many things one of them being financial decisions – sometimes these decisions are good but oftentimes they are bad. This is precisely why the finance industry needs so much change because it is so important to the economy and society.

    keep up the good posts,

    -Andrew

  10. Just wrote a post on the layering of the location eco-system (www.clarkebar.com).

    Same principle, history repeats itself… glad to see I’m not too far off.

  11. Brian says:

    Great points, especially #3. If I hear one more of my friends from college (I just graduated) tell me they want to be an investment banker I may vomit…

  12. Chris, you are talking about information transformation, and the way in which “privileged data” will now be available to people who previously without a lot of money would be unable to gain access to it. Isn’t this sort of a non-prediction prediction? This has been going on for at least the last 5 years already, and is simply now making bigger strides toward law, education and energy industries. What I want to know about the future of the Internet is much more disruptive. Think of the trends that really shaped the Internet as we know it to date, and most of it is related to technology and software trends. With a few gaps it went pretty much as follows: HTML and information exchange, multimedia, server-side languages and dynamic Web sites (web 1.0), commerce and advertising , dynamic Web applications (web 2.0), social, mobile. That is severely condensed, but think about what is on the tail end of that – mobile. I think there is something to be said about the Web as we know it dying, and the rise of a ubiquitous Internet experience. Whether that be mobile, or a blurring of the line between TV and Internet, or simply allowing more devices to be Internet aware. It is too early in 2011 to tell, but the injection of the Internet into every day living is what I see as the near future.

  13. Great points all around, but my favorite?

    “In a few years, we’ll look back in amazement that in 2011 we still used brokers to help us find houses, that doctors kept records scribbled on notepads, that government information was carefully spoon-fed to a compliant press corps, and that scarcity of information and tools was a primary inhibitor to education.”

    My son just turned one. I cannot imagine the thoughts that will go through his mind when he’s my age (30). He’ll think to himself, “How did dad live like that?” Mostly for the reasons you mentioned, but also in terms of:

    Paying for cable channels you don’t want.
    Internet speeds less than 400, 600 even 1000 mb.
    Personal computing with a physical hard drive (instead of everything living on the cloud).

    Here. We. Go!

  14. “Convincing the upcoming generation to innovate in sectors that have a direct impact on the quality of peoples’ lives (Internet, healthcare, energy, education) instead of wasting time on sectors that were historically prestigious (e.g. finance and law) but add little to negative economic and societal value.”

    The eternal optimist in me thinks that #3 from your list is starting to happen.

    We see the precursors to this in social enterprise, which is the development of business models that achieve positive economic and societal value. It is only a matter of time until the momentum behind changing the status quo is so great that innovation in those sectors you noted will be inevitable.

  15. Yes, there will be a cost. The main point of my post is descriptive and not normative: the trend is inevitable whether you like it or not. I also tend to think the that, say, real estate agents getting disintermediated is hardly “maoist,” but I guess we have sharply different views on history and politics.

    As to the ad hominem part of your argument, yes, I work in the internet business, and my biases are well disclosed in my posts, about page etc.

  16. We’re trying to do our bit in the UK too. We’ve developed a parallel internet offering Dashcom domain names (as an alternative to almost 90 million Dotcoms registered). Users can now create any TLD in any language, and there will be the re-introduction of the first true spam-free email system that cannot be bulk mailed.

    Yes, there’s an APP but there’s also an ISP link-in that negates that need. We’ve encountered wildly diverse opinion, yet we now have members and users in over 90 countries worldwide.

    Some time ago, people would have thought a retailer was crazy to waste time/money trying to sell anything on the Internet. After all why would you want to buy a hugely expensive computer, get an extra phone line, buy a modem, buy an OS, learn how to use it all….and then pay someone to build a website that no-one would ever see……When all you had to do was pick up a phone.

    Having just one Internet in a universe of infinite space is like saying you can only get around the USA on route 66…..Actually it doesn’t even begin to say that.

    Thanks
    http://dashworlds.com

  17. Andy Lawrence says:

    Interesting post. How far do you think we are away from seeing CEO’s of large retailers with Ecommerce as their hip pocket skill (vs merchandising, store ops, etc)s? I.E. when will Ecommerce cease to be the screaming new channel and become the focus? Guessing before Ecommerce sales exceed in-store sales, but how much before? Relevant career question so interested in your thoughts.

  18. Chris, predictions are a game most people don’t take too seriously for the simple reason that no one ever predicted the big unexpected shifts. The dotcom bust or the current great recession is just an example.

    But you don’t stop with the predictions, you advocate a change in immigration policy (and surely Fred Wilson is not far behind with thumbs up). My take specifically on this advocacy is that in light of the massive job destruction by the internet and millions of lives affected by the outsourcing, the trend that was turbocharged by the internet. In light of all this the immigration advocacy by the VC and the internet entrepreneurs is not only self serving but unethical.

  19. One of the primary drivers of this in the US is our open society. In China, for example, these innovations must be filtered through the lens of government censorship which will have a crippling effect on that innovation.
    That’s why things like Net Neutrality and free speech are so significant.

  20. So allowing talented entrepreneurs to immigrate to the US is “maoist”? Wow, please do stop reading and commenting on my blog. There are plenty of right wing hate blogs for people like you where you’d feel a lot more at home.

  21. coldbrew says:

    “And this very glee by people who benefit from the revolution financially that allows them to close their eyes or not even notice this human suffering.”

    It’s as if you believe the ability to be a part of those benefiting from the progress of human civilization is limited. It is not, and the playing field has been/ will be significantly lowered for all that wish to contribute.

    Your comment is a Luddite jingle often repeated by those too lazy to take part, or those with entrenched power they are said to see available to others.

  22. coldbrew says:

    Speaking of the financial world, there is a significant opportunity to innovate (and disrupt) in the financial sector by tracking the analysts that upgrade/ downgrade equities (e.g. track record vs price action), as well as figuring out some way to compete with Moodys et al using a more efficient and objective rating system.

  23. coldbrew says:

    Reading your second paragraph, it doesn’t appear you even understand how to form a sentence correctly. Given your apparent opinion on protectionism, however, this is not surprising.

    In light of your stupidity, Disqus should implement an ignore feature.

  24. STut says:

    “Wasting time on sectors that were historically prestigious (e.g. finance and law) but add little to negative economic and societal value” says the MBA trained investor. Respectfully, you’re your own rebuttal.

  25. Chris, I think you’re spot on.

    But I have to take issue with your assertion that the legal profession is merely “historically prestigious,” “add[s] little to negative economic or societal value,” and therefore is less deserving of innovation than other important sectors. What’s your basis for that? Doesn’t legal representation have tremendous importance in our society? Lawyers deal with rights. What could be more fundamental to a free society? Doesn’t the legal sector deserve to have innovators in it as much as the health and energy sectors?

    I’m a law student, and plan to be an Internet lawyer. I hope to be an innovator in the law, and to have an impact on innovation in the other sectors you list precisely because the Internet will eventually transform them. What I think is important is to make sure that the next generation that chooses to go into finance or the law does so for the right reasons.

  26. coldbrew says:

    It would be helpful if you were to use paragraphs to separate out the specific points you are trying to make.

    Your last sentence seems to be in agreement with everyone who talks about mobile/ always-on connectivity. It’s not exactly a prediction for the future, it’s reality.

    Using versions (e.g. 2.0) is not exactly helpful to discussions in a setting that is presumed to be quite tech literate.

  27. Chris, to clarify, I am not left or right wing, in fact it used to be considered ‘left wing’ to stand up for the less fortunate, that was before the so called ‘left wing’ internet barons got in the game. Or before the democratic party became a corporate, big business mouthpiece just like the republicans.

    Finally my comment about ‘maoist jingles’ referred to the utopian visions of the future, not your immigration advocacy.

    With that I wish you all the best and thank you for an occasional enlightening post. I will no longer read or comment here.

  28. coldbrew says:

    The sad fact remains that “the right reasons” for most people are $, and that will continue to be the case. I hope you are able to innovate within the legal profession, but keep in mind that will require you to disrupt the status quo within that industry. As a result, if you are successful, you will be seen as the enemy.

  29. ‘massive job destruction of the internet’ = myopic thinking. the internet has most definitely destroyed many jobs, but at the same time has given rise to (and will continue to do so at an ever increasing rate) many many many more jobs.

    the internet may be the latest catalyst, but since the beginning of human history technological and general market factors have led to a natural evolution of industries and associated skill set requisites. the wheel, the ability to farm and harvest the earth, the printing press, advancements in transportation, the pc, etc etc etc have all massively changed historic economies through the necessary, sometimes painful, but ultimately massively beneficial process of creative destruction.

    would you complain that machines displacing workers working in an assembly line in a pin manufacturing plant 100 years ago was a bad thing? sure, it cost jobs and forced thousands to learn new trades. on a micro level, some suffered greatly because they were too old or incapable of transitioning to a new field. but on a macro level it enabled us to more efficiently and productively use our labor force to do high order things which ultimately benefited all of society.

    the internet is the same thing. in the short-term there will be some painful loss as old industries die and new ones emerge. but at the end of the day, we will all be much better off for it.

  30. AX says:

    Chris –

    Thought-provoking post, and I agree more or less 100% with your points.

    I especially agree that we need to incentivize young people to not go into finance, but unfortunately other the big trend here is winner-take-all markets. In engineering, this means the top end of the talent+luck spectrum get really, really rich and the low end see pay dropping. This is a trend, so predictably the landscape will be a lot worse in 10 or 20 years.

    A rational graduate aiming high (say 95 percentile but short of 98 percentile) will therefore try to maximize by not going into engineering, where chances are high he won’t be able to pay his mortgage with his salary. Starting an engineering career in 2011 is simply gambling on being at the right startup at the right time, and everyone doesn’t have that tolerance for risk. No other engineering career path is really as viable as other things an engineering-minded person might do, like being an IP attorney or a physician, or a trader. Why choose a career path with a median income in the $70k range when you can choose one where the median is over $100k, like finance? Totally rational behavior, totally predictable by the macro trend.

    I’m a software engineer with 15 years experience and a fair bit of success, but I’m telling kids that if they have aptitude for numbers and are not hardcore gamblers to go into medicine.

  31. AX says:

    Jared –

    I think you’re right that the legal profession adds a ton of value to society. (Just look at countries with a poor legal climate to estimate how much value is in law!) But in terms of innovation, the legal profession is unique in that it gets to make rules preventing innovation. Crucially, some of those rules are necessary to protect the integrity of the legal system itself!

    Take an example from current events: the foreclosure mess. The law states clearly what needs to be presented to a court to foreclose. When people tried to innovate around this with robo-signers, they ended up making mistakes (erroneous foreclosures, perjury, etc.). Mistakes in foreclosure court mean people have to move out of their homes, kids have to change schools, etc. as a result of an innovation in law.

    Nobody wants innovation in law when it’s their case being prosecuted.

  32. This guy Ben is from a different planet. I actually grew up in the country – Nepal – that has had the deadliest Maoists on the planet for over a decade now.

  33. I think you’re making one very common mistake: Underestimating the power of government as it relates to innovation and fostering free markets. Government regulation is essential to maintaining free and open markets. America’s lead in internet innovation is and was built on US mixture of laissez faire economic policy and the ever-present fear of anti-monopolistic regulation.

    Government can stop the internet and the information revolution that is ongoing. Never forget that, especially when you vote.

  34. As you point out, the web has leveled the playing field. So it doesn’t matter whether we let talented people come to the United States or not – the work is still going to flow to the talented people.

    Since US citizens have to compete with the rest of the world either way, I’d think we would want more of that economic activity happening here in the US, not less.

  35. Aaron, I got an email about this comment via disqus and although I wrote I will no longer comment here, I feel compelled to reply to your valid point. Of course you understand that it is not possible to have a selective legislature. I.e. let’s expedite all visas for people who are particularly good with Python. Now what Fred Wilson’s of the world advocate is across the board loosening of the immigration standards. This inevitably puts additional pressure on the devastated middle class. Because the immigrants are willing to work here for less, or even more qualified, etc. Thus I maintain the immigration advocacy by the internet barons is self serving and unethical.

  36. I don’t need to repeat the point about job destruction vs. job creation because of the web, as bsiscovick has done an excellent job answering that one below.

    But yes, you could definitely staple green cards to the diplomas granted to non-residents by any American university and encourage them to use their newfound knowledge to create jobs and economic growth HERE.

  37. I have to say I’m confused when I click through to your blog and find that you were “born in Moscow and have lived in the US since the 80s.”

    Explain to me why immigration is not a good idea?

    I’m glad you’re here, even if you’re not. :)

  38. I am in healthcare, and am truly excited by what people can do with technology there (recognizing that people should always come first, naturally). It is a slow grind however (as any heavily regulated and sensitive industry, I imagine) which can make some days a bit tougher than others. I see tons of disorganized healthcare technology, with far too little emphasis on the consumer side (ie: there’s not much out there in terms of apps, beyond calorie counters, FitBit, and the like). That needs to change soon.

  39. DM says:

    status might be the wrong word, and in a global economy run by information, isn’t privileged information necessary for companies to be successful.

  40. douglas puckett says:

    imade a med screen that allows you and your doctor to see and talk to each other as doctor can exam you from your home. has blood presure , temperature , weight , eyes nose throat testing . and a few other things to get a good exam from a doctor. blood test can be called in or meds . stop the spread of infection . you can have test done fast and never set foot in a doctors office. hooked up to police fire hospital any emergency you need, this cuts health care cost by 70% and will create 153000 new jobs per state. you can use it as a TV/ computer / social network and see on screen the people. has endless uses . this is the new job creator just like the PC and internet we have needed a way to create a new thing that everybody can use this is it. i built 11 of these if you like to try it let me know my email dk6730@foothills.net or address hc 60box114 salyersville kentucky 41465 my name douglas puckett no one else owns this but me. thankyou.

  41. If you are talking about things like supporting net neutrality (preventing app specific pricing by semi-monopolistic network operators) than I totally agree.

  42. That’s one component of it, but really I am talking more generally. People who approach the world from an economics lens––and the tech world is replete with these people––tend to overlook the irrational, self-dustructive shit that countries/politcians do and have done every so often in the course of world history.

    Progress and rapid technological innovation is not an inevitability––it’s pre-conditioned on a certain set of political circumstances that are frail and fleeting at best. Never before in history has so much innovation happened so quickly. And in no other country save maybe a handful––Sweden, Israel––is it happening concurrently. This is the result of a global order that America created in the post-war era.

    I say because of this lil’ line: ” People, companies, investors and even countries can’t stop this transformation. “

  43. Balduzzi says:

    Having worked in the trenches of many past Internet transformations (e-commerce/auctions, online banking, online dating, instant messaging, and many more), I completely agree with your observations and comments. I also recommend reading The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires by Columbia professor Tim Wu. Interesting look at the past to help predict the future.

  44. douglas puckett says:

    i uretired from gov. work i can now show some of the designs i built you you use everyday . this is the time now i do it for myself . i built 11 med box units to show and prove the importance. the chip i put into this took me alot of time but i did get a invite to see mitch mcconnell his people have been using the screen the day it arrived in washington and they are going to use it and show me the jobs it is going to create. i did the first nano algae that is being used today along with another 100 of my designs . never loose faith there is so much more needs done.

  45. Guest says:

    Yes, but also
    - low-cost alternate “incarceration” tech (trackers and such), permitting even the poorest countries to incarcerate the majority of their populations;
    - automated wiretapping: every comunication, sensing, and computation device, a bug;
    - trusted computing;
    - world-wide physical “cop on the ground in minutes” deployment capability.
    All Washington wet dreams, well funded, and feasible.
    Disrupting the economic constraints on tyranny – yay innovation, I guess.

  46. Was watching this thread with interest, wanted to share a true / case in point story.

    Yours truly is not a US citizen. I came to the US for my degree in computer science, which I later then got a corporate job with a work visa .. but I simply could not start a company. I just legally couldn’t. If you know anyone who was on a H-1B and cleared the immigration hurdles to creating a tech startup – please email me in private because I want to know how, as I know plenty of people in my painful predicament. It killed me to be on the sidelines, watching. I wanted so bad to be in the game. For technology, there’s no where in the world I’d rather be than in Silicon Valley (or definitely in the US for sure).

    To be fair, there are some legitimate paths allowed by immigration law, such as, if your net worth is 0.5 to 1 million USD. Uhh, I don’t come from a rich family – a poor one I might add. Others are like, if you are world famous at something. Too bad I’m not Michael Jackson.

    The point that I’m trying to make is, I finally got my green card after 6 years, and *now* I feel like my life begins. Last Christmas I quit my job, moved to Silicon Valley, and I am in the process of bootstrapping a startup here, in the US. I have to say, I couldn’t have done it without my green card – and might I add, it was by luck / fate that I got it after 6 years. Meaning, it could conceivably have taken me 10 years at least. My fellow peers are still stuck in the “system”.

    I like this idea of stapling a green card to a degree paper very much. (I believe it was John Doerr who said something like that before too?)

  47. Welcome. The United States is lucky to have you!

    I certainly didn’t make up the “staple the Green Card to the diploma” line – I want to say I heard it first from Fred Wilson but I don’t know where it originated.

    This country has always been a “shining city on a hill” showing the way to freedom and opportunity for the world. Restrictive immigration policies don’t reflect that grand history we should be embracing and extending.

  48. douglas puckett says:

    nanao tech. is going to be used in everything we use today follow this and you will have a job . i found a new drug on cancer from this i see the future in that we show the inovations i have seen work will put the united states back in front .

  49. thank you! I’ve been here 10 years to date. I still love the US and want to be here. However, I know of fellow international student peers who given up trying to get past the immigration hurdle, and they went back to wherever they came from after they graduated from the US – and they do just fine there. I’m a die hard fan of being here, but I don’t expect my peer so be that fanatic about being in the US.

    The US will definitely benefit itself with the green card stapled to graduation paperwork thing. Sounds obvious, don’t know why it’s not being done. I don’t get to vote anyway, so I don’t keep up much with politics since I highly doubt I can make a difference there. Me trying to convince anyone who can actually change immigration laws for the better for this country is like me trying to boil the ocean.

    I actually just moved to the Bay Area – and yes, I’m reminded of the immigrations from back in the day that came on ships, of which many died along the way, but they came here because it is the land of opportunity, and I continue to hold on to that view!

  50. douglas puckett says:

    i agree in energy with you . i made and tested a devise 3 years ago that installs in current cars and trucks . 80% farther per gallon and 63% less exhaust polution , it is still working and takes 4 hours to install . but it gives a person the choice of using this or buying a electric car that very few have and depend on . the cost is the hold back thats why battery tech. is on greate demand for new inovation. green tech. took a battery i made a while back but i have updated it from 15000 ca to 43000 ca and it is still the same size and will do better in 7months.

  51. Fred says:

    I re-read your post and have no clue what you’re talking about. We’ve been “investing” in education for many years and we have the world’s largest education bureaucracy and laughable “standards” designed to ensure that every state can boast about its schools, while diplomas are handed out to students who can barely read, write or do math. Libraries, bookstores and the web are full of information. How is education being inhibited? Answer: It’s not being inhibited by a lack of access to information and tools. It’s being inhibited because parents are fat and lazy and they’re raising kids to be just like they are. Or, perhaps they see that the payoff from working hard to learn and achieve is nowhere to be found. Jobs are outsourced at the touch of a button and/or talent from overseas is brought in because our cost basis is too high.

    Although I enjoy doing my own real estate research online, when the Internet can show a home off and ensure that potential buyers don’t steal anything and stay focused on the property while carefully negotiating a deal, I’ll believe we don’t need real estate agents.

    As for talented people being allowed to go where their skills are needed — that’s working just fine as those who have done well and those who are motivated to learn — our own graduates and career-changers — enjoy “careers” delivering pizzas and selling shoes at Macy’s while cheap foreign talent is sought after to enjoy a lifestyle upgrade from conditions in their home countries. Let’s have some more of that.

    As for investing in energy, it will be instructive to see how much renewable wind energy actually gets to population centers in the northeast. Google’s huge investments in this area will soon meet “Not in my backyard.”

    I would just ask you to ask yourself — how earth-shattering or significant is it to predict that the Internet will continue to transform our society? This was free content, though, and maybe that’s the problem.

  52. I think that the political opposition comes from the rampant illegal immigration that has caused a lot of problems. Too many people allow their desire for secure borders – a national security necessity in the age of terrorism – to translate into opposition to legal immigration.

    They are two very different things, and one can be strongly in support of expanded legal immigration while wanting a secure border that protects our national security.

  53. kagorges says:

    Thought provoking — thanks for writing this Chris ;)

    After having read all the comments I’m struck by a couple of things about taking the culture of Silicon Valley to other locations in the US – and the relationship of that to immigration.

    The entrepreneurial culture here (I live in Silicon Valley) is unique in the world. The elements that create it are: an acceptance of failure, positive reinforcement for initiating, a community that loves change and is co-located, and excellent education (Stanford, Cal). Those elements are hard to duplicate – they are a culture and self-perpetuating. People come here to be a part of this culture – it attracts like-minded people no matter where they are in the world.

    While exporting that to other regions of the US would be great – they already have cultures. In fact, the way venture money is distributed is very different on the East coast than on the West. And it’s part of the judgmental and conditional culture in that region (not a bad thing – it supports a very committed community view that doesn’t exist in the West, but is limited in other areas – nothing is perfect). The point is: Silicon Valley is unique and not replicable – something new will need to happen in other places and the question is what will that be? And how will that contribute to the future disruptions of the web?

    I think global collaboration will be the new Silicon Valley: like-minded people drawn together online in innovation culture communities – synergy is key so the communities will need to get more sophisticated to get that in person energy boost of being in an idea creating session in Silicon Valley.

    Silicon Valley is a magnet for anyone anywhere who want to be a part of creating something new – especially in high tech. (Similarly you could say LA is a magnet worldwide for creating something new in the entertainment industry.) It’s about the synergy. So, you have people wanting to be a part of this culture – choosing to be with their tribe (as Seth Godin would put it) – and yet limited by the artificial constraints of the US government immigration regulations. I understand those constraints – I meet even agree with them – but I also see the conflict inherent in denying someone their ability to join their tribe only because of the accident of birth.

    What’s my point? This: Silicon Valley is a global treasure of culture – not something to take lightly. And in the future, the web offers the opportunity to create something similar that calls forth the imagination, energy, enthusiasm, and synergy of innovators all over the world to create – that’s one of the key roles of the future of the web in my mind – mobile, desktop, laptop, or embedded chip – it’s about how it contributes to our lives.

  54. Adrian Meli says:

    Chris, agree with a lot of what you say but I find it ironic that most people who will tell you to not go into finance are in finance themselves-eg Warren Buffett and Charlie munger- it is easier said than done going into green energy or Internet businesses. There is far more supply of people wanting to go into such professions than demand for them. Entrepneurs are ramping up in all these fields but our education system does not train for these careers yet because the jobs aren’t there, Effectively, we are saying “go be an entrepreneur!” – Adrian meli

  55. douglas puckett says:

    i use voive control the screen is also very handy as a person talks to you your vision of them might be different. first impresion is back into play.

  56. Nflunza says:

    I think the question going forward is not so much the definition of transformation per se BUT the speed of transformation. Where the speed clouds the transformation. I question and wonder what transformation us humans will need to make in order to comprehend, absorb and interpret the light speed of information.

    WE talk about virality as Magic and how to bottle it. WE look at what has become viral and wonder how did it take off. WE may look back to this era and laugh and cry how viralization was actually a 2010 version of subliminal control and a form of trancing not much different than the 1970s outlawing of subliminal messaging in advertising. People will then chuckle and laugh and say why didn’t we outlaw this in the early 2000′s. And ofcouse the answer will be very simple – we were able to fuse freedoms of humungous financial gains with a planetary transformation into one generally acceptable concept – VIRAL and its younger offsprings Traction.

    Not much different than a law from Adam Smith or a law of physics – To be truly Human in this decade is to be VIRAL. Its what all the cool kids are doing……  So we go back to the question whether you join the side of innovation and progress or you don’t. –

    And for me Ultimately……… I like being cool :-)

  57. Florian Feder says:

    I noticed that the law itself is missing from your list of industries that will be revolutionized. Maybe the internet could make the law more efficient and less annoying? Added bonus is that a more efficient legal system would need less lawyers and therefore free up talent.

  58. Adam says:

    Chris,
    Thank you for this post. It’s Great! I recently met with one of the local city commissioners (here in Tallahassee, FL) about the city formally endorsing a technology which my start-up is developing. The commissioner owns a marketing and PR firm so I figured that he would understand the disruption potential of the internet as marketing has been dramatically effected by it. To my dismay, he completely lacked such foresight, claiming disbelief that internet innovation would transform the subject industry to which my startup addresses. Well, after reading this posting I forwarded it onto him, suggesting that the author, a NYC entrepreneur and VC just might happen to know a thing or two about the evolution of technology… I think he will be a bit more responsive next time I meet with him, after he has read this…

    NOTE: I know the nature of my startup is pretty vague in this comment, so it is hard to respond on the likelihood of the subject industry being disrupted by my startup, but regardless I just wanted to say, THANKS! GREAT EVIDENTIAL ARTICLE WHICH WILL BE USED AS REFERENCE MATERIAL IN FUTURE PITCHES FOR SURE!

    -Adam
    http://www.SiliconTally.com

  59. I agree the US needs to get back to _building_ real products and _creating_ real value, not make money from money.

    One the one side of the employment spectrum, manufacturing has taken a huge hit in this country. I believe the US needs to get back to competing here, building and exporting manufactured goods.

    On the other side, information technology-based employment has exploded and needs to continue to do so. I totally agree that education, health care and energy are ripe for innovation. The US needs more engineers of all kinds.

    That said, I think entrepreneurs/startups/VCs/angels/Silicon Valley need to make a concerted effort such that the focus is on creating real societal value. I think it is easy to get caught up in trends like “social” or “checkins” that in and of themselves don’t provide real societal value. I feel Facebook and Twitter walk a fine line here, but much of their story remains to be written. What Twitter is enabling in Egypt and other countries is remarkable. Here’s hoping these and other web/tech companies can move towards _building_ real innovation and value.

  60. Madison says:

    Great post as usual Chris. Creating transparency through the internet encourages innovation, innovation boosts economic growth and economic growth through the internet equals economic growth in society.

  61. John says:

    Thanks for this great article !
    Just one question : Why did you put Telecom in Already transformed and not Being transformed ?
    John

  62. “convincing the upcoming generation to innovate in sectors that have a direct impact on the quality of peoples’ lives (Internet, healthcare, energy, education) instead of wasting time on sectors that were historically prestigious (e.g. finance and law) but add little to negative economic and societal value.”

    How do you support the statement that areas such as finance and law add little to negative economic/societal value? Unrestrainted greed and smothering laws are obviously bad for both the economy and society, but that shouldn’t lead to the conclusion that there’s no value to those areas.

    Where are the Entrepreneurs getting the funding to launch their ideas? More than likely, it’s from private equity/venture capital funding or a small business loan. Finance. Where to successful small businesses go to raise further funds to grow faster and innovate more? Capital makets. Finance.

    When selling their product or service, adding partners, getting their funding, or stopping somebody from stealing their ideas, they look to the law. Contract terms and courts are there to protect people and their rights.

    Obviously these areas can be manipulated for the wrong purposes, but so can anything else, even those fields you want to see greater focus. Are finance and law the areas of greatest positive innovation? Of course not. Are they necessary and valuable? Absolutely. They support the innovation and the innovators. When people stop “wasting their time” on those fields, watch what happens.

  63. Hidden truth in this post to entrepreneurs, borrowing from the word of @JasonFried, is to the extent you can control the future of the web, you wont need to predict it

  64. You focused on a horse race too.

    “There are things the US can do to keep this lead…”

    You say it best later: “even countries can’t stop this transformation..”

    So why are you focused on your country’s lead, when your country won’t matter anymore?
    ;-)

  65. “convincing the upcoming generation to innovate in sectors that have a direct impact on the quality of peoples’ lives (Internet, healthcare, energy, education) instead of wasting time on sectors that were historically prestigious (e.g. finance and law) ”
    I think that the first things that we must disrupt are finance and law, without significantly disrupting those fields we will waste another generation of entrepreneurship to deal with lawyers and accountants, which probably consume 80% of their time.

  66. Great post! Thank you. I would add that the modern economy runs on information – AND communication. The Internet dramatically changes our approaches to both.

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