Straight to the point

On-line software services are everywhere: I do shopping, check map / route / timetable, order food, communicate, do financial operations, read books / news, watch movies, listen to music, play games - ALL OF THAT thanks to on-line software via Internet.

It all looks like sci-fi movies coming to reality: today we can do things we were not even able to imagine doable 10-15 years ago. But as a person who does software for a living, I can't ignore some things that were not present in these sci-fi movies, but they are here, affecting our reality more & more:

  1. Commonness of software didn't improve an average quality. Quite the contrary (mind the recent problems with system running the vote calculation after the regional election in Poland - http://news.yahoo.com/govt-office-blamed-polish-election-problems-133851446.html): I can't help the feeling that modern software is far more sloppy that it used to be & bugs are not exception, but rather something you learn to walk around.

  2. Complexity of services (in general) has increased significantly. They could have been quite complex before, but in pre-digital era this complexity was handled by humans: slow, moody, prone to miscommunications but also adaptable, capable of infering from a full context of reality around. Software can't do that, so its creators shape up more & more complex models that get even more complex (& error-prone) when used in integration scenarios.

  3. Development & expansion of on-line services has surpassed all the forecasts. Law, security, taxing, IP rights control - these all didn't keep up with the changes. As a result, on daily basis we hear about new security breaches, sensitive information leaks, privacy abuses, etc. What's even more important - it's majority of us / the popullation itself that still doesn't understand how important, valuable & significant data can be -> we tend to share it to carelessly, without thinking about consequences.

Things are out of control & escalate quickly.

Tomorrow

I don't like playing a fortune-teller's role, but I can't help it - the vision's quite grim:

  • as a consumer of software service, I have to get used to errors & mistakes; I may sound like a Cpt. Obvious, but it still pisses me of when I think about situations like that:

    • I can't read the book, because on-line DRM check service is off-line
    • I can't play the game, because world servers are DDoSed
    • I can't listen to music, because digital confirmation of my payment cannot be obtained
    • I can't check mail, because my certificate mysteriously cannot be validated
    • etc., you should get the idea by now
  • software distribution model will quite likely evolve towards closed variant (like Apple's) - fully open markets will be seriously affected by hidden malware & trojans: the wider the range of affected users, the more painful for reputation it will get; YES, I think people will wilingly pay someone to make sure the software / services they use are safe -> it's not that far from traditional anti-virus software model

  • people will get more & more reluctant with sharing their data on-line: that will create some market space for innovators that may explore the following areas (or something absolutely new & mind-blowing):

    • identity as a service (commercialization of Microsoft Passport / Google account, etc.)
    • universal digital identity (digital signature 2.0)
  • companies will finally start realizing that existing, current services were suited for the non-digital, traditional distribution / operating model; new, digital means require re-inventing the products & services - with a strong emphasis on simplification, compensated with much wider audience & ease of shaping the information to be passed further

World is a beautiful place

There's no doubt about that - I wouldn't trade living now for living 30 years ago. But we're already encountering some challenges that can't be easily handled in a traditional way (for instance - by government regulations). We have to face them as whole digital civilization.

I have no doubts we'll manage, hopefully without much pain & disturbance. One is for sure - everyday life in 10-15 years won't have much in common with what it looks like today.