Google on what the future will bring…

Religion / Web/Tech

There’s a President’s Day reflection on Google’s blog that talks about what effects we might expect to see as the broadband stimulus funds contained in the recently signed national Stimulus package are spent.

If things work out, Google sees both an increase in the connectivity of individual nodes on the ‘net, and an increase in the way that people are going to access that information.

Specifically they foresee:

All the world’s information will be accessible from the palm of every person

Today, over 1.4 billion people, nearly a quarter of the world’s population, use the Internet, with more than 200 million new people coming online every year. This is the fastest growing communications medium in history. How fast? When the Internet was first made available to the public, in 1983, there were 400 servers. Twenty five years later: well over 600 million.

In many parts of the world people access the Internet via their mobile phones, and the numbers there are even more impressive. More than three billion people have mobile phones, with 1.2 billion new phones expected to be sold this year. More Internet-enabled phones will be sold and activated in 2009 than personal computers. China is a prime example of where these trends are coming together. It has more Internet users than any other country, at nearly 300 million, and more than 600 million mobile users — 600 million! Twenty-five years ago, Apple launched the Mac as ‘the computer for the rest of us.’ Today, the computer for the rest of us is a phone.

This means that every fellow citizen of the world will have in his or her pocket the ability to access the world’s information. As this happens, search will remain the killer application. For most people, it is the reason they access the Internet: to find answers and solve real problems.”

Read the full article here.

As an iPhone user – and actually one of three people who use iPhones in a family of three – we’re already starting to live into this new paradigm. Having access to the web anywhere and at anytime has changed the way we communicate information in our family in ways that I didn’t expect.

And I’m wondering now what the effect is going to be on the Church. It’s certainly going to be more than just having a bunch of bible translations at your fingertips all the time – or being able to read the Book of Common Prayer whenever you want.

Just as blogs created a method of conversation that no one in the Church really anticipated, these convenient, always on Internet devices are going to create change for us that we don’t expect.

For instance, in classrooms these days, students use laptops to have conversations with each other about the lecture they’re attending. (Or at least some do…) Could something like that be in our future for worship services?

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...


  1. So a question…
    You say “Having access to the web anywhere and at anytime has changed the way we communicate information in our family in ways that I didn’t expect”
    Around my space, there is a growing universe of people who cannot disconnect, and basically substitute instant web or email for critical thinking, or taking the appropriate amount of time to think and communicate. Its almost a dumbing down effect. Sort of like asking a child to search for a word in a real dictionary, so that they can fumble through pages along the search and learn other things.
    I don’t think its all good. different, yes, powerful, yes, but a mixed bag of transformation.

  2. I think it’s a fair concern you have about people’s inability to disconnect from the web. But I’m finding that having the handheld device actually let’s me do just that. (Since I can quick peek to make sure no emergency events have occurred, or there’s no crisis that I have to imagine, I’m much more likely to put the laptop away and pick up a book instead.)
    Our daughter actually uses her phone to do quick fact checks or to text her friends. My wife uses hers to keep her calendar and/or email current. Both have seen the same effect that I have in terms of a net lowering of sitting at a “terminal” and an increase in being able to be away from the desk.
    I wonder sort of if this mobile access isn’t another step in our evolutionary progress to being full blown cyborgs….

  3. But can you actually keep the device in your pocket, or leave it at home for a day or even a few hours and not get anxious that you are missing something?
    I’ve watched people get visibly unnerved after an hour of withdrawl when told to park their device at the door, after an hour or so…
    Its a wonderful tool, sort of like a swiss army knife when you are in the middle of the woods with no other help. But theres that other side…

  4. oh, and when you look at it…it would seem google, facebook, twitter etc.. all are banking on this behavior.

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