Sunday, August 05, 2007

A shorter history of the next 25 years

Charlie Stross, Life's a Game and Then You Die: the Future of Online Games
Whether you live and play in augmented reality or virtual reality is a choice you'll make every day. Probably the two environments will overlap so that the next generation — the folks born in 2012 — won't necessarily be aware of it. Do you remember growing up before computers? Before CDs? Before GPS? Before the internet? They're not going to remember growing up before MMOs, or VR, or AR. The politicians grandstanding today about the evils of computer games and the urgent need to ban Whizzumajig will look as quaint to their eyes as a Prohibition-era preacher ranting about the evils of the demon Rum.

Charles Stross has a look at some possibilities on when computers and computer gaming may end up (especially MMOGs) for the next 5 though 25 years. Very interesting stuff, it's going to be very interesting to see how things change in the next 25 years. He makes some rather good points about TPM and DRM as we put more and more of our selves up online it's going to become increasingly important to us to control and protect our "online" avatars and properties, and such technologies are likely to play an important role in such protection.

Thinking back 10 years, my family was transitioning from an old second hand green screen pc (386, 300k ram) that got used once every few months to a P166 with 32mb Ram and 3GB HDD with a 33.6k modem. No cellphones, no DVD's, a few old 35m Camera's. The internet was present, but there wasn't a lot to look at for most people, a few news sites, plenty of computer related sites, warez and a few other things. Internet was for email and IM for most of us and the local BBS was still kicking a bit as an alternative. Multiplayer computer games were generally dialup or lan based. Most of the other families we knew some with older children (late highschool) or younger had one family computer which got used for school projects and a few games and cellphones were company provided for the few who had them.
Now look at it today (though we've now a different age group so it may be partly due to that) in a family of 5 we have 6 computers all networked (admittedly 2 don't get used a lot) not counting 2 additional ones that the "shop" owns. We have 2 digital camera and 4 cellphone of which two of the cellphones can also take pictures. Multiplayer computer games are webbased and modems are some where but not attached to the computers. The computers are on average around 2 years old and yet are in the range of 2Ghz (10x faster just based on frequency not work) with 512-1024MB RAM (~20x + more) and spread among them we have ~600GB (200x more)of storage space, the internet connection is 2Mbps (~60x faster). The internet can be used for just about anything email, IM, phonecalls, gaming, TV, movies, music, photos, journals, buying and selling, organising our schedules and is one of our primary sources of news. We can often connect to it from any point in our houses (if wireless) and some public places, we can connect to a limited amount from our cellphones (at a level of interaction that reminds me strangely of the internet around 1997). It's changed so rapidly and only now are our generation the "first" as such to grow up at least partly with the internet starting to get to the point where we can have an effect on the structure of the web and start to create the services we want to use. With all this occurring in just 10 years it's going to be incredible interesting to see what happens in the next few years.

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