During a conversation with a colleague this week, I pointed out that I am not actively subscribed to any podcasts anymore. I told him it is not because I don’t enjoy the content, but I never plug my mobile devices into a computer anymore to sync up. His response was perfect, “What do your habits say about the future of the internet and computing?”.
That same day, the New York Times published an article detailing Google’s interest in web TV and partnering with Sony and Intel to get there. If I think about my own habits and the people around me, I think they are in the right direction and can transform the internet, social media and computers into something that is seamlessly integrated into our lives.
Let me explain my habits and maybe it will help provide context to my opinion. I am not an early adopter, I don’t try every new toy as they come onto the market(I was never in the “cool crowd” and am still not). I don’t sign up for every new website when they are launched(I do read about them). I sit in front of a computer for work most of the day, but don’t use social media at work. I use my smart phone to connect to people, twitter, facebook and any other social tool I am subscribed to. I come home after a long day and relax, unwind and watch tv, but am loathe to open my computer because that was work. Any additional social contacts I make are done through my cell and that is it.
In comes Google with an understanding that I am an average user and don’t want to connect wires to computers to sync everything. I don’t want to have four devices open in front of me at a time. They understand that I am not getting rid of my TV habit, but am willing to part with my computer. They understand that if a cell phone suits my needs for my social interactions, that a supped up TV would be even better(font size, speed and general comfort would all be increased).
They are essentially integrating tools into our everyday habits instead of introducing tools that force us to change our human behavior. Computers have only been mainstays in our homes since the early 90’s ( Yes, many early adopters had computers at home since the early 80’s) and during the last 20 years they have constantly evolved. The constant evolution has changed the way we interact with them, making it nearly impossible to hard wire computers into our daily routines. If I polled people on how they used the computer in 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005 and 2010 I bet we would have 5 different answers float to the top.
On the other hand, TV’s and phones have been part of our lives since the 1950’s for TV and 1870’s for the telephone and their basic functions have never changed. Phones still call people and TV still displays broadcast and cable shows. Abstractly, phones are used to connect to people and TV’s are use to get away from work and other daily routines.
As I understand it today, the future of the internet, social media and computers are not in new gadgets, websites or apps that early adopters latch onto, but in regular household mainstays that enable a seamless use of all the different media and essentially unchanged routines.