Mashable bills itself as a social media guide, although it tends to cover Web 2.0 (yes, I am still not a fan of that term), current trends (viral hits and the like), and even a fair amount of randomness. Ben Parr, Mashable' co-editor, just wrote the article What the Web of Tomorrow Will Look Like: 4 Big Trends to Watch where he outlines his own idea of where the web is going. Similar to how Google's CEO described the web in 5 years (Google CEO Describes Web in 5 Years), where the conversation was framed in the context of Google's experience and core focus, Mashable's perspective is also coming from its own place in the social web and as new media pundit. The quick breakdown:
1. The Web Will Be Accessible Anywhere
Given the increase in Wi-Fi access (from your laundromat, from a neighbor, and so on) and 3G and 4G networks, it's just a matter of time before Americans (and those in other countries) decided that wireless broadband access is a right. It's just a matter of time before it's not just an oddity but an inconvenience to be somewhere without internet access.
2. Web Access Will Not Focus Around the Computer
If you saw my post on Friday about mobile internet access (Mobile Internet Use Continues Climb) then you know the numbers support this. People are increasingly moving to wireless mobile devices for day-to-day access and to use custom applications (on-demand media downloads, GIS and mapping, augmented reality, and so on). This doesn't mean the web is moving to the refrigerator (I still don't understand a web surfing fridge), but that users are no longer tethered to a computer to complete mundane tasks online. With new devices, like MP3 players and book readers, you wouldn't generally use your computer to update them anyway.
3. The Web Will Be Media-Centric
While here Parr talks more about the interface than the content, it leads to the conclusion that people are going to be downloading movies, songs, books, articles, etc. We've already seen that trend increasing as media devices (again with the MP3 players and electronic book readers) become internet-enabled and as consumers push for media readers/players in the mobile phones and other platforms.
4. Social Media Will Be Its Largest Component
Humans are social creatures. Facebook, Twitter, and others have grown at s breakneck pace. More and more web sites include comment areas. Some people only get online to check on their friends through social media sites. Social media will certainly continue to be a driving force behind much of the casual use of the web in general.