I have seen the future

Lots of people, including me, have wondered where the internet will be going in the future. What will be the next big boom? What will the next big technology be? Too late – Google has whooped everyone’s asses to the punch.

It’s been predicted before and, maybe, I’m just a little late in “getting it”, but XMLHttpRequest (aka AJAX) and web services (ie. SOAP) are totally where the web is heading. Combine this with micro formats and the semantic web and you can start to see where things are heading.

In the next five years it will no longer be acceptable to simple post XHTML to a website. Users will start demanding semantic XML delivered via HTTP through SOAP or XML-RPC so they can consume the information you post online in any manner they wish. The browser space will explode with new, alternate viewing methods (RSS aggregators being the first in a long line of new products that will alter the way we consume online materials).

If having an Internet connection isn’t already a requirement it will be within 10 years because, at that point, your operating system will rely on an Internet connection to function. If Google has anything to say about it you’ll most likely be booting off of their massive cluster. This has been widely anticipated for some time and I can see it’s already happening (GMail being a good example).

So, where are the opportunities? I see huge opportunities in the consulting end with helping people to bring web services online quickly. I also see a huge arena for people to create new specialized applications geared around specific web services. I also see new protocols popping up based on web services (ie. every photo sharing site publishing API’s that work the same for each site). The specialized applications I mentioned before will utilize these new protocols to create rich new applications that allow you to consume information in a totally new way. For instance, I could browse to img://cameron@flickr.com to view Cam’s photos. Or you could go to acronym://SOAP and have it give you a definition for SOAP. My favorite would be someone who would create info://Joe+Stump which would leverage the various API’s from Wikipedia, Google, etc. into a single “fact sheet” for the term provided. The possibilities are endless in this arena.

The interesting thing to mention here is that programming languages, for the most part, will become a moot point. It won’t matter what I program my web services in or what programming language you use to consume my web services. With AJAX, XML and web services the future is looking very interesting on the web.

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