Things That Will, And Things That Will Not, Change

I want to refer back to a post Julie wrote a couple of months ago about writing in SEO. I’ve struggled with this a lot recently, because sometimes it’s just torturous to come up with something new. I get to work at about eight-forty-five every morning and leave sometime before six, and I do SEO all day. Sometimes I do extra things when I get home too, but there is often just nothing noteworthy to say about it. I fix mashed up redirects. I figure out who should link to what from where. I do things that interest me, but do you really want me to write blog posts about the merits of dropping IIS servers off of cliffs? Well maybe that wouldn’t be a bad post. But I, too, get “so bored with the SEO.”

It’s not a boring job, but it’s boring to watch people justify their constant stream of blog posts about it. The situation is even worse when you get into social media blogging. In total honesty, I want to read and write more posts like this, composed in a fit of genius by my coworker Rebecca. I am so bored with the endless rattling about things that don’t matter: If a blogger has nothing important to say, at least do something funny. Please don’t compose another trail of drivel about corporate social media efforts. Even when I don’t read them, I know they exist, just like I know Sarah Palin exists even though she’s not going to be Vice President. (Can I get a hell yeah? Ahem. Excuse me.)

In that vein, I’m not going to write about SEO. I’m going to pretend that this is a more generic technology blog (which it often is, really). People often write lists of predictions for the new year, and this fits into much the same genre. Technology of all types, but especially of the Internet related variety, has changed my life in astonishing ways in the last two and a half years. Here are more things I see changing soon, and some things I don’t see ever changing.

  1. The end of text messaging. I pay way too much for an SMS plan that I don’t use. Nearly everyone who I want to contact in a moblie environment has a telephone that supports an email client. Most of them also carry Facebook and Twitter with them wherever they go. Why do I pay for a text messaging plan on my phone when I also have a data plan? The only solution for SMS plans’ survival is that they become incredibly cheap or free. As more “normal people” adopt BlackBerries, iPhones and other incarnations of walking laptops, more of us will realise that expensive texting plans are a ripoff.The only person who will suffer here is my Dad. He has email on his telephone but can’t use it. I still receive punctuation-free texts from Dad at seven in the morning on Saturdays. This will never change.
  2. The end of small plastic cards. I am old enough to remember when New Zealand switched from large, paper drivers’ licenses to plastic cards, and I assume I’ll also see such cards start to disappear. I also remember when my parents stopped using cheques and started paying with plastic. Given the right technology and security, we could put an end to this…


    … and introduce the era of this.


    I see no reason why this is a crazy idea. The technology that’s already gone into iPhones’ touchscreens allows them to do some pretty incredible things. My dear old BlackBerry Curve has a little way to go before it’s capable of paying for my shopping, but I can certainly see it happening in the relatively near future.

  3. The complete and utter death of offline yellow pages. Forever. Gone. Out. Good-freakin-bye. They delivered copies of the yellow pages to my area yesterday. I came home and there was one outside the front door. In the past, they’d just leave them out by the street, near the letterboxes, and expect us to pick them up. No one ever did, so now they’ve taken to placing them on our doorsteps so that we have to at least move them before we can get inside. I begrudgingly brought mine in. Here is what it’s doing right now. It will do this until I take it to the rubbish bin.


    Can we please admit, finally, that the phone book should die? I’ll get people in comments who’ll say, “but I still use it!” Seriously: get a telephone that knows how to work teh Googles and save all all that paper. I guarantee that I can find something faster and more reliably on my laptop or mobile phone than I can in this massive book. Although people have been predicting this for years, the fact that they felt the need to drop the books on our doorsteps this year confirmed to me that offline yellow pages are suffering badly.

  4. The reintroduction of professional journalism.
    I say this as someone who contributes to multiple blogs and who spoke on a blogging panel a month ago at Pubcon in Las Vegas: I dislike blogging. I don’t like the word. The term “blogger” usually elicits emotions of disdain from me. There are too many hacks out there who publish crap. Additionally, I’m not the only person who feels like this. As more people take up the cause of writing about their fantastically boring lives, many people will react by embracing writing as a profession again.Writers will once more need some sort of credentials in order to be taken seriously. I don’t mean that they’ll need degrees. However, they’ll need some talent with language and knowledge of their field. Quality newspapers don’t hire people to write their technology articles who are borderline-illiterate and who don’t actually do any technological work. The idiot-blogger celebrity phenomena will go the way of the yellow pages.
  5. Appliances and gadgets that are Internet-capable. Why can’t I upload photographs directly from my digital camera to Flickr? I can do that from my mobile phone, and I have to imagine that cameras with degrees of Internet capability already exist. However, I should be able to select photographs on my camera and send them directly to a Flickr account. I could be logged into a Facebook account, probably via an application similar to the one on my telephone, and create new albums on that site as well. This completely cuts out the “middle man” of my computer.Although they’re hellishly expensive, some appliances like this already exist. A Seattle coffee shop near the old SEOmoz offices had a coffee machine that “talked” to its fellow coffee machines in order to determine the optimal temperature and amount of water needed to make the best cup of coffee. It was sort of ridiculous, but a sign of future normalcy at the same time.Unnecessary, irrelevant applications and appliances will make their way onto the market, but it’ll be the small, sensible changes that make a big difference. Cameras that upload straight to the Internet aren’t revolutionary, but they’re logical and useful.

And now for things that will never change:

  1. Search engines will never be defunct…… although I’m willing to admit that they may one day be very different. This said, the idea that vertical search and social media will completely take over from generic online search doesn’t seem quite right, at least not for a long time. Just now, I saw somebody I follow on Twitter ask a question that she could have “Googled.” She received an answer. However, we often overlook the fact that Google would have answered that question as well. What social media is good for are questions that people can answer quickly, and the additional information that they can provide. It still stands that traditional search will win when nobody knows the answer or is around to provide it. And holy shit, I included something about SEO in this post.
  2. Retail stores will still bring in customers. I’d file my fingernails online if it were possible, but I still don’t fully embrace online shopping. The main reason for this is that I like to try things on and I hate sending things back. Therefore, if I’m going to buy clothes, I want to buy them at the store. There will always be people like me who like offline shopping.Additionally, I’m never going to buy something really important online, like a car. I want to take a look at something that expensive and important before I buy it. I’m sure people have bought and rented property online before, which is an awful idea unless geography truly prevents the person from visiting the location.
  3. Geography will never cease to exist. It makes no difference that, in looking at my Twitter feed or Facebook home page or Gtalk IM client, I can talk to people in Australia, Florida, Auckland, Washington DC, London, Seattle, California, Texas and North Carolina. The Internet doesn’t make up for the fact that I am not there with them.

    I have a couple of friends whom I talk to daily. We joke that when we’re not face to face, we live in each other’s computers, but it doesn’t work like that. Nothing makes up for being sat in front of someone–no amount of video chat, Twitter, email or anything else. We’ve liberalised communication to the extent that I can contact someone in France as easily as my next door neighbour, but until we can email ourselves somewhere, geography still wins. I’ll still buy aeroplane tickets. We’ll still miss people with whom we have a constant line of communication, and we’ll never completely close the gaps physical distance creates.

And that’s about where I stand on these few random technology-related subjects. I won’t buy online, but I’ll pretend as hard as I can–and in vain– that my far-away friends are actually here. I’ll contradict the fact that I write blog posts with the statement that blogging usually falls in between boring and asinine. And, all the while, I wait for the day when my coffee machine knows how to make a better drink than I do.

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