Your Guide to the Internet's 'Next Big Thing'

Where is technology taking us? There are a few schools of thought

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 8, 2010 1:10 PM CST

(Newser) – Michael Wolff hears so much about the Internet’s future “that I should be in a position to get rich, finally.” But it’s tough deciphering all this chatter, “because the technology business is at least as much talk as it is science,” he writes. So in his latest Vanity Fair column he’s broken down the big competing theories about the Internet’s future, kind of like "a Next Big Thing for Dummies.

First we have Platform Theory, the idea that “ubiquitous, octopus-like, hydra-headed, chameleon-ish” platform sites will control the world. Google’s a prime example and Facebook—which is sure to go public soon—could be next. In the next corner lurk digital behaviorists, building business models around freely-given user-generated content, even if it creates a “mountain of crap.” Still others think Big Media is still king, and that a magical machine like the iPad can restore its power.

In this Jan. 27, 2010 file photo, the Apple iPad is examined after its unveiling at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.   (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, file)
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Behind these theories lies a Manichaean struggle that pits good against evil, control against freedom, one man’s Establishment against another’s new order. - Michael Wolff

And if this obsessive disgorging and contributing produces, a mountain of crap, this just means the next big thing will be about sorting, sifting, and filtering the crap. - Michael Wolff, quoting a sentiment from digital behaviorist Jeff Jarvis

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