This is a fable for a future truth.
There is an analog from the past that frames how I think about the rise of new mediums. It's the motion picture.
Once upon a time, our notion of the motion picture was that it was silent, with accompanying music to set the tone of the story, and sub-titles to stage specific scenes.
It was a simple medium that was inexpensive to distribute to theaters far and wide. It traveled well internationally, too (just "localize" a few text boxes).
Kind of like in the early days of the web.
Along comes the 'talkie,' and conventional wisdom saw the idea of driving movie narratives through talking actors as a fad at best, and an expensive gimmick at worst.
It required new types of actors, new approaches to filming and costly retrofitting of theaters.
Amazingly, in just four years the talkie subsumed the silent picture.
What's interesting is that this occurrence not only changed how movies were made, and the economics of the movie business, but it fundamentally changed our notion of a what a movie could BE.
It became a different medium.
The Rise of a New Medium
This is what the next wave will look like.
It will change our notion of what computing, connecting and communicating experiences can be.
The magical opporunities will come from figuring out the types of interactions that come to life when:
- Client and Cloud Converge;
- The field of play is 10 Billion Devices worldwide
- Our concept of an interaction can mean "Humans," "Machine-Assisted," or "Autonomous and Invisible."
The tendency for consumers, technologists, analysts and investors is to confuse attributes, like browsers and URLs, with outcomes.
But attributes are merely artifacts.
Outcomes are aspirational; jobs to be defined; the embodiment of a medium.
The hot category of messaging apps, which Ben Evans talks about in his excellent post, 'Interaction, canvases and ecosystems,' is a good example of the emerging medium at work. (SEE: WhatsApp | Kik | SnapChat)
Why? Because such experiences have a notion of state, distribution, message and payload.
Here, I'd assert that there are a lot of interaction models and interesting workflows that this type of runtime structure can support.
It lends itself to new experiential forms that are the "talkies" to today's "silent" web.
What's Past is Prologue
Ironically, unlike the many mediums to get disrupted by digital - music, books, newspapers, magazines, broadcast television - the talkie, an early twentieth century creation, has stood the test of time.
It's proven elastic and durable across genre, geography, demographic and viewing screen.
This is something to think about as the Post PC era takes hold.