Like with every Industry the IT/Internet/Web Industries are growing up, computers aren't what they were, Mobile phone can do 'everything' and all the pioneers of programming stuff are reaching their fifties or even thinking about retiring.
So where are we all going. We have to look pragmatically and realistically at what is going on around us, we've just experienced or we're in the tail of of a human era like no other, the last 20 years of the Personal Computer have created a revolution in creativity and freedom of expression. We can visit almost any website we like and contribute and if that wasn't enough we can easily learn the skills to make our own website - these days it's more on a par with cooking than learning French, anyone can do it.
But will this last - I'm not at all spelling out a doom and gloom here - but with Tablets and Phones massively taking the place of our PC's and grey boxes in the corner of the room - we are losing some of our ability to build and create our own websites and thus in reality we're also giving up some of our freedom of expression.
Of course - there will be plenty of other ways to express what we want to say and probably only a fraction of web users ever bothered to make their own website. But none-the-less something in our ability to have complete freedom will disappear.
- We seen this happen to the car industry - most of our grandparents would happily get under a car and try to fix it, in fact cars were so unreliable they had to. These days cars are better built - but you can't service them you need to go to a Garage.
- Our teenagers currently learn a lot about computing and that's great - but as they use Tablets and iPhones more and more - a bit like the old VHS machines - they won't know what it is like to work n a Desktop computer. They'll lose a vital skill in learning how this Internet thing works
- Rise of the banks - as usual money drives most things - instead of making your own website from scratch and hooking it into a Bank so you can take payments will gradually become a thing of the past. Instead you'll buy into a 'system' and insert your bank details and some will happen behind the scenes to make it all work.
So what does this all mean, I don't think it will effect the ways people express themselves particularly, but there will be consequences:
- Cost - it will definitely cost more to set up a website, yes there will always be 'free', but if you want to sell something or actually 'do' something it will cost more. Also if you want to be successful (i.e. have more than just a hobby website) then it will cost significantly more.
- Web Designers and IT skilled people - because things will be more reliable and when you 'buy' into a system in theory it should be easier - but we'll experience a further shortage of people will the skills required. There simply aren't enough learning how it all works to cater for the demand. Take away the fundamentals of learning how computers work (which will happen to some degree) and you will get even fewer skilled IT people.
As a comparison we could be looking at the medical profession where you can get most things for free(ish) on the NHS - but actually if you want something extra you have to go private and then the numbers are simply staggering.
Does this spelt out some good news for Website Designers - not really, instead of getting a full eCommerce website up and running for £3000 (approx) and making sure the website is all singing and dancing... it's going to cost £15,000 and there's going to be a heck of a lot more to take into account.
We here already cater for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google Plus by default, not to mentions a vast array of 3rd party services for everything from hosting, statistics through to advertising and seo. As we need to plug into more and more of these systems - so to will our time, intelligence and skill be tested more and more.
In fact the pressure for website designers will be to take on fewer clients for more money, exasperating the already considerable shortage of skilled IT people.
As I said at the beginning, I'm working this out, in terms of the future, I do see plenty of ways that people will self express on the website, that is not at issue, but I also see a significantly higher cost to market, fewer IT professionals which will ultimately lead to fewer, but better websites.
Supply and demand runs everything of course - but I suspect I'll retire before there is a seriously disruptive industry that will shake all this up again and that is a bit of a shame,