SQLServerCentral Editorial

The Future of the Internet and Data


I can still remember my early days connecting to the Internet and wandering about. In those days I used gopher to browse around, read through the usenet groups, and got text email through a text client. We had to learn to type well to keep our sanity in the early 90s. I still remember when we first saw browsers, and my early excitement with Netscape Navigator, able to see text and pictures without manually downloading images to my PC.

The online experience has changed dramatically since then, with complex web pages that allow you to enjoy, work, and even try out an OS all inside a browser on the web. Today's Internet allows us to do so many things that it's no wonder the transition to working at home went quickly and smoothly for many of us. I'm amazed these days how many places I can sign in for work with a single sign on, accomplishing things that would have required a VPN and multiple user/password combinations in the past.

If I imagine the future of the Internet, I tend to think of a richer experience, though I struggle to think of how things can be even richer than they are now. I would hope that we don't go down a route of more ads and interruptions, but that might be where things go. There's an examination of how things might change in this article, talking about a dystopian view.

If I enter "sqlservercentral.com", I see a similar view of the site today, though blurred. Instead I get a pop-up that the business no longer exists, another one noting "access denied" beyond the firewall, and then a security warning the site is suspended pending legal proceedings. None of those things would be something I imagine, but all could be possible. I wouldn't be surprised if we started to see some "controls" added to browsers that might be enforced based on government rulings.

The wayforward site in the article is pretty simple, with a few different types of pop ups that speculate about potential restrictions. While I do think some of these might come about, I doubt that a wholesale, 1984-like implementation of the web will take place. I certainly could see some sites "suspended" pending legal review, and I'd welcome that. There are a lot of scams taking place on the Internet, and I do think Facebook/Google/etc. are not doing much to curb their reach.

Rather than limitations based on my views, or even because of censorship, I'd expect to see more paywalls, perhaps with micropayments more easily integrated. Want to see an article, it's US$0.25 each time, or a pack of 10 articles for $1, or a monthly subscription for $5, $10, or something. I certainly expect that like streaming TV/movies, we'll start to see new types of subscriptions that seek to fund more content. I do think places like SQL Server Central, Stack Overflow, and many other individual sites will continue to exist as free resources as well.

Most of us that are working as data professionals recognize the value of data. Many companies do as well, and I expect they will continue to try and find ways to turn a profit on their data. I just hope that we find ways to balance freedom and privacy with the desire for profit.