People ask what the next web will be like, but there won’t be a next web.
The space-based web we currently have will gradually be replaced by a time-based worldstream. It’s already happening, and it all began with the lifestream, a phenomenon that I (with Eric Freeman) predicted in the 1990s and shared in the pages of Wired almost exactly 16 years ago.
This lifestream — a heterogeneous, content-searchable, real-time messaging stream — arrived in the form of blog posts and RSS feeds, Twitter and other chatstreams, and Facebook walls and timelines. Its structure represented a shift beyond the “flatland known as the desktop” (where our interfaces ignored the temporal dimension) towards streams, which flow and can therefore serve as a concrete representation of time.
It’s a bit like moving from a desktop to a magic diary: Picture a diary whose pages turn automatically, tracking your life moment to moment … Until you touch it, and then, the page-turning stops. The diary becomes a sort of reference book: a complete and searchable guide to your life. Put it down, and the pages start turning again.
Today, this diary-like structure is supplanting the spatial one as the dominant paradigm of the cybersphere: All the information on the internet will soon be a time-based structure. In the world of bits, space-based structures are static. Time-based structures are dynamic, always flowing — like time itself.
The web will be history.