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:
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.
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.
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.
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.