Wikimedian age is coming

A number of social theorists are talking about post-industrial age/society as a compact time period. However, it is hard to say even that generations born at 1950s were grown up in the similar social conditions as generations born at 1980s.

There are more distinct ages, indeed. At least, post-industrial age passed, but one more age passed, too: the Internet age. We are at the end of the third age and very soon one new age will begin: Wikimedian age. It is not the end of history, of course. I think that it is possible to predict one more age after the Wikimedian.

All following ages inherit past ages, of course. Post-industrial age inherited industrial age, Internet age inherited post-industrial and so on. But, it is possible to see some very new social relations which differentiate the following ages from the past ones.

Beginning from the post-industrial age, I recognized two passed, one contemporary and two future ages:

  1. Post-industrial age started in the late 1960s and ended between the collapse of Soviet Union in 1989 and the formal start of the Internet in 1995. Roots of the post-industrial age may be traced into beginning of the space race in 1950s or even in the Second World War, when war brought a lot of new technologies. The most distinctive characteristic of that age is consumer society.
  2. Internet age started at the end of the post-industrial age and ends in 2001. It is possible to say that the exact date of the end of the Internet age is September 11, 2001. Of course, roots of the Internet may be found in the late 1960s. The most distinctive characteristic of the age is, of course, Internet.
  3. Google age started at the end of the last age and it is the present age. Even I named age after Google, the first big company of this age was Yahoo. Because of that, I put the introduction of the age in 1995, the year when Yahoo company was formed. Even the age is, of course, the part of the Internet age in the broader sense, the age is very distinctive from the time when Internet was not so useful. And, of course, it is not hyperbolic to say that exactly Google, Yahoo and similar concepts made Internet useful.
  4. If my predictions are right, Wikimedian age will clearly start between 2008 and 2010. This will mean that searching Internet for information will come to the end. Informations will be searched only on Wikipedia, other Wikimedian projects and other similar and compatible projects. In other words, Wikipedia and its satellite projects (not necessary inside of Wikimedia) will eat the Internet. The roots of this age may be traced from the beginning of Wikipedia in 2001 or even from the introduction of wiki-wiki concept in the second half of 1990s.
  5. The last age which I may predict now is the Virtual reality age. We may see the roots of this age in the games like World of Warcraft is and in social interaction platforms like Second Life is. However, before it starts, it is necessary to develop easy accessible unified software for such purpose: form clients via formats to server software. For example, maybe web browsers will become such tools in the future. Also, maybe improved SVG will become the basic format of that age. And, of course, server software should be easy to install like todays CMSs are. I think that this age will be full developed before 2020.

In this document I tried just to list the main technological and some social impacts of the ages. In the next texts I’ll describe more details, as well as some other aspects which I didn’t described here.

Ages

Post-industrial age

  • The beginning and the end:
    • Introduction: 1950s.
    • Beginning: late 1960s.
    • Culmination: late 1970s and 1980s.
    • End: late 1980s and the first part of 1990s.
  • Generations of the age:
    • Mature: 1930s-1950s
    • Creative: 1940s-1960s
    • Learning: 1960s-1980s
  • Social and ecological changes:
    • During the age:
      • Women emancipation.
      • Sexual revolution.
      • Alienation of people.
    • Produced by the age:
      • Increased social freedom.
      • Human rights.
      • Bigger economic gap between rich and poor.
      • Global domination of Anglo-American culture.
      • Raising nationalism and fundamentalism.
      • Climate change.
  • Key “soft” technological advances:
    • Large scale electrification.
    • Introduction of electric home appliances and it’s widely usage.
    • Computerization of industry.
  • Sources of informations:
    • Knowledge: books.
    • News: newspapers.
  • New communications:
    • One to one:
      • Telephone.
    • One to many:
      • Radio.
      • Television.
    • Many to many:
      • Radio amateurs.
  • The most popular software:
    • Specialized, mostly industrial software.
  • The most popular computer games:
    • Personal computer games.
  • Dominant business models in new technologies:
    • Producing and selling electronic devices.

Internet age

  • The beginning and the end:
    • Introduction: 1980s.
    • Beginning: 1991-1996.
    • Culmination: 1997-2000.
    • End: 2001.
  • Generations of the age:
    • Mature: 1950s-1960s
    • Creative: 1960s-1980s
    • Learning: 1980s-1990s
  • Social and ecological changes:
    • During the age:
      • Human rights.
      • Increased social freedom.
      • Bigger economic gap between rich and poor.
      • Global domination of Anglo-American culture.
      • Raising nationalism and fundamentalism.
      • Climate change.
    • Produced by the age:
      • Economic prosperity.
      • Decreased social freedom.
      • More intercultural interchanges.
      • Global domination of Anglo-American culture.
      • Radical nationalism and fundamentalism.
      • Climate change.
  • Key “soft” technological advances:
    • Internet software.
  • Sources of informations:
    • Knowledge: books.
    • News: newspapers, Internet.
  • New communications:
    • One to one:
      • Email.
      • Instant messaging and chats.
    • One to many:
      • Web-sites.
    • Many to many:
      • Email lists.
      • Instant messaging and chats.
  • The most popular software:
    • Desktop applications.
  • The most popular computer games:
    • LAN games.
  • Dominant business models in new technologies:
    • Selling computer programs.

Google age

  • The beginning and the end:
    • Introduction: 1995-2001.
    • Beginning: 2001-2003.
    • Culmination: 2004-2007.
    • End: 2008.
  • Generations of the age:
    • Mature: 1950s-1960s
    • Creative: 1960s-1980s
    • Learning: 1980s-1990s
  • Social and ecological changes:
    • During the age:
      • Economic prosperity.
      • Decreased social freedom.
      • More intercultural interchanges.
      • Global domination of Anglo-American culture.
      • Radical nationalism and fundamentalism.
      • Climate change.
    • Produced by the age:
      • Economic recession or unstable times?
      • Increased social freedom?
      • More intercultural interchanges?
      • More cultural diversity at the global level?
      • Decline of radical nationalism and fundamentalism?
      • Beginning of successful fight with climate change?
  • Key “soft” technological advances:
    • Content management systems
    • Googleplex
    • P2P
  • Sources of informations:
    • Knowledge: books, Wikipedia
    • News: Internet news agencies, newspapers, blogs
  • New communications:
    • One to one:
      • Beginning of VoIP.
    • One to many:
      • Web-sites.
      • Blogs.
    • Many to many:
      • Internet forums.
      • Beginning of teleconferencing.
  • The most popular software:
    • Web browser.
  • The most popular computer games:
    • MMORPG.
  • Dominant business models in new technologies:
    • Selling commercials on web-sites

Wikimedian age

  • The beginning and the end:
    • Introduction: 2001-2007?
    • Beginning: 2008?-2010?
    • Culmination: 2010?-2012?
    • End: 2013?
  • Generations of the age:
    • Mature: 1960s-1970s
    • Creative: 1970s-1990s
    • Learning: 1990s-2000s
  • Social and ecological changes:
    • During the age:
      • Economic recession or unstable times?
      • Increased social freedom?
      • More intercultural interchanges?
      • More cultural diversity at the global level?
      • Decline of radical nationalism and fundamentalism?
      • Beginning of successful fight with climate change?
    • Produced by the age:
      • Economic prosperity?
      • Social freedom?
      • Better understanding of different cultures?
      • Cultural diversity at the global level?
      • Without nationalism and fundamentalism?
      • Climate change understood and humans adapted to it?
  • Key “soft” technological advances:
    • Complex social networking software.
    • Developed knowledge gathering and classification software.
    • Unified P2P network.
  • Sources of informations:
    • Knowledge: Wikipedia, books
    • News: blogs, Internet news agencies
  • New communications:
    • One to one:
      • Social networking sites.
      • Developed VoIP.
    • One to many:
      • Social networking sites.
    • Many to many:
      • Social networking sites.
      • Developed teleconferencing.
  • The most popular software:
    • Highly advanced web browser. (Platform independent; operating system like browsers.)
  • The most popular computer games:
    • Social platforms (e.g. Second Life)?
  • Dominant business models in new technologies:
    • Donation to projects.

Virtual Reality age

  • The beginning and the end:
    • Introduction: 2003-2013?
    • Beginning: 2013?-2015?
    • Culmination: 2016?-2018?
    • End: 2019?
  • Generations of the age:
    • Mature: 1960s-1970s
    • Creative: 1970s-1990s
    • Learning: 2000s-2010s
  • Social and ecological changes:
    • During the age:
      • Economic prosperity?
      • Social freedom?
      • Better understanding of different cultures?
      • Cultural diversity at the global level?
      • Without nationalism and fundamentalism?
      • Climate change understood and humans adapted to it?
    • Produced by the age:
      • Radically different economy?
      • Different meaning of social freedom?
      • Merging cultures?
      • Beginning of life in VR?
  • Key “soft” technological advances:
    • Developed VR software with various purposes.
    • Developed freenet-like networks.
  • Sources of informations:
    • Knowledge: Wikipedia, VR libraries
    • News: blogs, VR news methods
  • New communications:
    • One to one:
      • Various VR methods.
    • One to many:
      • Various VR methods.
    • Many to many:
      • Various VR methods.
  • The most popular software:
    • VR clients.
  • The most popular computer games:
    • A lot of different games based inside of VR.
  • Dominant business models in new technologies:
    • Various business models which would be able to migrate from “real life” to virtual reality.

This is the first text in the series Wikimedian age. Texts from this series are:

  1. Wikimedian age is coming
  2. Obsoleting past ages
  3. Changes which Wikimedian age will bring
  4. Contribution to the future of the wiki
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~ by millosh on August 18, 2007.

5 Responses to “Wikimedian age is coming”

  1. Cool analysis, but I disagree on a few points.

    Virtual Reality is a nonstarter for a few reasons.

    1. The interface isn’t remotely close to not sucking. There’s nothing immersive about tapping keys to move; there’s nothing fun about watching

    2. VR currently adds a tremendous amount of bloat around the actual content — it has a lot of the disadvantages of real life and few of the advantages.

    Disadvantages: I have to *fly* somewhere in second life? I have to read a giant virtual billboard? Why can’t I just *be* there? Why can’t I have the text displayed for me in a way that suits my 2-d screen, not in a faux 3-d that I can’t properly use.

    Nonexistant advantages: You want me to pay real money to have a fake conversation where all the social nuance is pushed through a clumsy low-bandwidth avatar? You want me to spend time decorating my virtual house when my real one is a mess?

    Augmented reality, on the other hand, might have a chance. Effectively freeing the web from the screens it’s trapped on, etc.

    But the real big thing that we’re living through is the fragmentation of culture. 15 years ago there were 4 network stations that everyone watched. EVERYONE IN THE U.S. watched the same tv shows every night. Everyone got the same news and the same culture. Then cable happened, and people started living in separate cultural realities — and the internet is cable times a billion.

    I’m waiting for anyone to realize how terrible an idea “news recommendations” are — people are getting routed into tiny channels, like a million droplets. Larger and larger groups are spiraling off from the mainstream. If anything, the future will resemble the italian renaissance, with a million tiny, feuding city-states (well, not literal city-states, but distributed ones).

    It will be exciting because there will be huge potential for cultural innovation, but treacherous because of the potential radicalization of groups (compared to the mainstream) and isolation of groups from one another. Look at the separate realities israelis and palestinians live in — they each have their own histories of the past fifty years, diametrically opposed to each other. And that corner of the world isn’t doing so well.

    Anyway. I like your blog layout, by the way.

  2. I want to talk more about this issue, but it is more easy to write a number of smaller pieces then one big. And I want to explain all of the concepts.

    In general, I don’t think that Second Life is how VR would look like. As (Unix command) “grep” didn’t show how search engines would look like.

    AFAK, the first VR engine was Counter Strike in 1998. But, Second Life brought something new: You don’t need to play war to be inside of their world.

    And, of course, VR will be useful at the moment when it becomes easy to use for all sides. I may imagine that in 2020 you will be coming to my “blog” in the polis WordPress and I will be coming to your “blog” in the polis Blogspot. Of course, using something which would be equivalent of contemporary web browser. And we would be able to talk directly, using our own predefined virtual areas like we are using now IMs.

    Second Life is making the same mistake (however, maybe it is not a mistake, but a normal development of such kind of economic systems) which was done by the first generation of Internet commercial systems: Yahoo lost race against Google (at least in the “Google age”) because Google commercials are much smaller and much more easy to load; they don’t bother so much… And, of course, people went to Google, even Yahoo is older service.

    If places like Second Life is want to survive, they have to work not only on user friendlier way how to make money, but they have to work on free software development, too. However, I didn’t hear that any of them is doing so.

    For VR age we will need some cheap VR device(s). Like web cameras are now cheap, I suppose that VR glasses or similar equipment will become cheap enough so people would be able to be in VR without a lot of problems.

    Also, any job which may be done using a computer (but, possibly others, too) will be able to be moved in VR. It is much more easy to program in the VR with colleagues from different parts of the world then to try to gather all of them at one place. And so on. (I don’t want to speculate now about high tech possibilities in the future.)

    Second Life is showing us two things: (1) how the future will look like (a lot of people will be willing to pay “real money” for “virtual things”) and that (2) money is very virtual thing (there is no matter are you spending it on bread or on some “house” inside of VR) 😉

    And, yes, Wikipedia brought very big cultural changes. We will have to wait for generations from 1990s and 2000s to become productive. And then we will see all of the implications of Wikipedia. (Internet brought the same in the smaller scale, but you had to spend a lot of time to find some a little bit more specific information.)

    My theme is the best one from very bad collection, actually 😉 For example, I don’t like fixed tables (I prefer relative width of tables, like MediaWiki has). But, thanks 🙂 I like to hear that someone else like white on black layouts. Majority of the time spent using a computer (from the middle of 1980s and Amstrad CPC 664 via using VT100 terminals up to GNU/Linux console), I was using bright on dark “layouts”.

  3. […] past ages This is the second part of The Wikimedian age. Previous article is: Wikimedian age is coming. As I mentioned in the previous post, all following ages may be identified as a part of a previous […]

  4. […] Wikimedian age is coming. […]

  5. […] Wikimedian age is coming […]

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