Kevin Kelly’s vision for the future of the web calls for immediate action

I just watched Kevin Kelly’s presentation at the web 2.0 summit in San Francisco. He talked about the web in ten years from now.  A few quotes from his presentation (watch it here, it’s great):

  • Evolution: Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the web 6,527 days ago. In that period we saw: linking of computers (the net), then linking pages (the web), sharing links, the next phase will be linking data
  • Sharing data feels intimate, we are entering an era in which we will share data. Every object we make (even physical) will have data in it, and it will all be part of this web -> the database of Things
  • In the next 6,500 days of the web: it will not be the web only better, it will be something entirely different
  • There will be one machine, everything will be part of it. The web will be its OS. If information is not on the web it will not count. Everything is always on.
  • Extreme dependence, we will feel something is amputated when we are not connected.
  • We will have an extension of ourselves on the web. If all my data is on the web, who am I?
  • We will have a new feeling for the value of the collective.

Kevin Kelly always makes me think. I like the way he tries to describe the effect of having everything recorded and shared online on our human lives. It feels scary and exciting at the same time. There are some possible consequences of his predictions that we should think about:

– If you are not taking part in this, you are non-existent.  People that do not wish to share everything will (have to) become social outcasts in order to stay out of this Database of Things. This will be nearly impossible as everything will be recorded and added to the database.

– If (most of) our identity will be on-line, then we will need much better privacy controls than we have right now. The possibilities for identity theft are endless, and as everything important is taking place on-line the consequences of identity theft will be much more severe than current practice which is often financial. Identity theft could possibly lead to non-existence and greater harm in the physical world

– I like his view on the possibility of the value of the collective becoming more important. It makes me think of Isaac Asimov’s Gaia in Foundation’s Edge. A planet where everything is part of a collective conscious, providing Gaia unlimited possibilities.The collective working together on a greater good.

– Kevin, like Tim O’Reilly, talks about the web becoming an OS and data becoming the most important currency. While this may be our future, I can’t help but feel we are approaching this too narrow, only from the “sharing” side right now. There is little effort to think through privacy, security and control of data. These are fundamental issues that seem to lose ground quickly against “social media”. And that is not a good thing. Users should be given the tools to control their privacy, but current practice and evolution of the web inhibits this development. The business case for privacy is losing ground against social media, and  I’m inclined to think we will suffer for this eventually.

Kevin Kelly’s vision of the future of the web calls for immediate action to develop much better privacy, security and control of data functionality for the end user. This is a call to action that defies current social media practice and will therefore not be welcomed. But I feel we might be heading for a nightmare where personal safety in the (physical and online) world could be at stake. We need to develop privacy data controls for the user to ensure he can get in control of what personal data becomes part of the database of Things as Kevin calls it.


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6 Responses to Kevin Kelly’s vision for the future of the web calls for immediate action

  1. “If all my data is on the web, who am I?” Never.Homo sapiens is becoming an informational homo,it’s true.But great humans always will have rising Public and Private own info. Сlear that private info security tools will be improved.

  2. @Igor, I am not so sure about that. Imagine that ALL relevant information for you to be able to get services has to be online (iow you can’t access them unless your identity information is available online). That would change the importance of your online identity from a Facebook persiflage to a necessity of life. I could easily see people getting confused over that. 😉

  3. Alain Yap says:

    As always, there will be two sides to the issue as it will be a certainty to the ‘web collective’ in a few years or so.

    Reminds me of ‘The Matrix’ where the reality would be sort of an imposed product of the illusion of the majority. Wouldn’t it be great as this would also give rise to ‘rebels’ and individuals who would be able to re-examine the value of life from a truly personal perspective?

    Backdrops change but the battle themes remain the same.


  4. Privacy v. Security – privacy will decline in the coming infrastructure, security will increase. Privacy is the minutiae of who we are and Security is the defense of our economic and physical well-being. Security has had privacy items as its gatekeeper for so long that folks have begun to confuse the two as being the same. Secuirty protocols will certainly evolve as privacy is lessened.

    Kevin Kelly is on to something, but the collective – hive – mind isn’t his greatest thought. That would be a step backwards. His views on economy and the web are amazing.

  5. Daryll, I guess the reason for privacy and security to be linked is that they affect each other heavily.

    I feel both are important. Decrease of privacy isn’t something that should just happen to us. Privacy should be controlled by the user and it should take a conscious act of the user to decrease it. Right now that is not the case. It just happens and there isn’t a thing a user can do about it. And that is very dangerous imo.

  6. Darryl is on the money here– Security is in the driver’s seat. I pay money for a variety of security related services in my life. Privacy is a Liberty issue that diminishes with the diminishing of the Frontier. We will never again obtain Liberty as we’ve known in the past until we are a space faring species.

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