Offering around 400 million active websites, there is no denying that the internet is a vast and complicated beast. This can be great in terms of choice, but it also comes with caveats for users looking for more direct and streamlined experiences.
With so many sites vying for attention, it could be possible that the future is one where the emphasis is placed on individually catered surfing. So, what illustrations of this direction currently exist, and how could future changes manifest?
Whether you realize it or not, an enormous amount of your online activity is already being tailored to your individual tastes and needs. Cookies have long played a part here as the BBC explains, recording small amounts of information such as viewing habits and engagement patterns.
If you’ve ever bought clothing online, then you might have noticed an increase in targeted advertising for related items. This is one example of cookies in action, as a mostly invisible part of an always active system. In some cases, these are limited to certain websites, whereas in others, such as cookies from Google services, they could modify enormous ranges of pages.
A more noticeable example of how our experiences are currently guided can be found in recommendations for video services like YouTube or Netflix. These systems apply AI-driven algorithms to track your viewing habits, and then offer shows which either grant similar appeal, or which were popular with other viewers of the same shows.
Extending Existing Systems
In a way, how modern guiding systems work is another form of simple review and comparison services. For example, the detailed reviews on CasinoWings have been designed to directly guide Indian players to bonuses and special features on casino websites. The difference here is that review websites are found through people making a conscious effort to explore, whereas guiding systems are more subtle.
Taking this entire idea a step further could be a challenge, but it should still be possible. Specially designed browsers might serve as a starting point in this regard, asking a few questions and then leading users to relevant information and sites. Through a combination of human and AI investigation, these browsers might be able to escort users to and away from certain websites based on personal tastes.
Training an Audience
As malleable creatures, we are heavily influenced by the news and entertainment we absorb. This is the most problematic aspect of potential future guiding systems, as they could, entirely by accident, have negative effects on how we develop. If somebody seeks out biased news sources, then that could lead to a feedback loop which damages their critical thinking, as BoredPanda illustrates. Similar problems could be found for entertainment, where giving somebody only what they enjoy might make them miss out niche genres that could otherwise become their favorites.
The difficulty here lies in the balance. Helping people find what they want is great, but the threat of pigeonholing is ever-present. Make no mistake, the future internet will be a more guided technology for sure, but there will always be a need for individual exploration.
Ultimately, it could be up to the individual as to what sort of experience they seek, and with the risks of outside manipulation, that’s probably for the best.