The first and perhaps most important theme is that of the “Embedded Internet” as the Net weaves itself around us and becomes a part of much of what we do. Writes Kevin Maney in USA Today:
Up to now, the Net has been almost completely about viewing content or buying products over the Web, using a browser on a personal computer. In the next wave, the browser will no longer be a solo act. It will become part of an ensemble of software and hardware that uses the connections of the Internet to do much more than has yet been possible.
Most users connect to the Internet to get on the Web and get their email. But saying the Web is the Internet is like saying that broadcast TV is the same as over-the-air radio waves. Obviously, that’s not true. Radio waves can carry many kinds of signals, from FM radio to cellphone conversations. Broadcast TV is just one big, compelling piece of the radio pie.
The Net carries Web pages, but it can also carry much more – in fact, anything that can be made digital. So far, the browser has been used as a gateway for almost any kind of Internet use.
For instance, you play music from Internet radio stations by using a browser to find the station, then clicking on a link to pull the signal into your computer. Internet radio is a good example of how the browser-and-PC model is becoming less necessary.
The Embedded Internet is driven by pervasive connectedness: it is not just people that are getting connected, but also things. The Internet becomes like the byline in the Visa ad – “Anywhere you want to be”. Wireless technologies, devices like cellphones and PDAs, protocols like 802.11b (11 Mbps connectivity in a short range) are all going to help embed the Internet in our lives. In some ways, the Net becomes like Oxygen – it is there all around us, and impossible to live without.
Instead of going to the Internet (in today’s PC-browser) model, the Internet will come to us. Much a new game created by Electronic Arts called Majestic. The game offers clues by contacting the user in every possible way – via email, instant message, telephone and fax. Every communications device owned by the user becomes part of the game. The tagline of Majestic? “The game that plays you.” Much like the Internet of tomorrow.