TL;DR: The Next Tech Wave

by Luke Wroblewski March 29, 2012

At the TL;DR Conference in San Francisco CA, Mike Maples talked about the next technology wave and some of the trends that may define it. Here’s my notes from his talk:

  • The industry tends to evolve in waves: PC, Client/server, Internet, and Social Network. None of these are over but we’re at the cusp of the next wave now.
  • It’s now difficult to start companies that are solely social networks. Instead what defined social networking is now just a set of features in the next set of apps. So what comes next?
  • Only 5 years ago, 95% of Internet access devices were running Microsoft OS. Smart phones were not Web capable, there were no tablets, and the Internet was a lot simpler (no separate Twitter, Facebook, iTunes etc.).
  • The things on our belts and purses are changing the fundamental architecture of the Internet. 2011 was the first year that Microsoft devices dropped below 50% of Internet access.
  • Hypernet: the new infrastructure that results from combing the Internet with cellular and WiFi access.
  • There is no longer one Web. We have a world of clouds, and screens, and feeds. This is the UI of the future. Millions of nodes will be integrated through mash-ups.
  • This is the start of the next big tech wave and HTML5 will be a critical element of it (to make connections).
  • There are five signals of change that are defining the next tech wave.
  • 1: A Web of links between everything. Ifttt is creating programmatic constructs between elements. This interlinks apps, Web sites, and more.
  • 2: From a search-powered Web to a discovery-powered Web. Search used to be the onramp for the Web. Discovery will be more like a heads up display that auto suggests things you might like. This especially matters on mobile.
  • 3: Evaporative UIs: buttons started out physical, computer input devices made them more abstract, then touch UI allowed buttons to emerge anywhere on a device. Evaporative interfaces can bring content to locations perhaps in multiple layers of information.
  • 4: Content Unbound: traditional boxes for content will become apps. Content will be zapped from any screen to any screen.
  • 5: Business hypernets. Business apps are forms talking to clouds. Instead real-time data to/from edge devices can be used to “trickle” data back to business clouds where all the signals get aggregated together.
  • Gesture based interactions shouldn’t be under-estimated as simple. They can provide valuable data back to the cloud.
  • Twitter showed that authoring is more important than playback on mobile.
  • Each tech wave has an iconic entrepreneur that represents it. Life is short you might as well make a great company that stands for this next wave of tech.