Tomorrow’s 2015 Shifts
6) The Th’internet
GROUP A pre-home page web.
DRAFT - Exploratory thinking
Identifying trends has always been difficult, but the rampant and accelerating pace of change in
the the current age makes it harder than ever.
Any snapshot of a moment in time is likely to be a blur of movement & immediately out of date.
Trends are hard to separate from fads, they are impossible to act upon, they don’t allow for
building sustainable growth, they offer a flicker of illumination, not the need for continuous
So the Tomorrow Group develops and leverages Shifts.
Shifts are multi year changes in how people behave, how technology is changing this behavior ,
they offer a more firm platforms to base decisions on.
I hope you enjoy them, shifts are living, evolving, they blend and separate, I’d love to hear any
feedback on any part of these.
These are highlights, for more information, ask me for a briefing.
Tom Goodwin - October 22nd 2014.
Introducing The Th’internet
6The internet is larger than ever, it’s carrying more content, in more languages, from more people
than ever before, and it’s growing exponentially.
It has a width of course, more subjects, more languages, but it has a depth too, the portals we
use to access it, arranging information in directories and subdirectories. Check out how long a
typical “URL” is, we generally focus on deep parts of the internet.
But what if how we navigated this blob was changing? What if rather than a deeper web it was
getting thinner? We used to navigate by portals, then by a bank of Icons on our home screen
that lead to different destinations, yet now information is pushed to us in hyper personal ways.
We’re now spending more time in the notification layer, accessing information without even
navigating any menus.
From personalization, to app links, to the notification layer, to new interfaces like Smart TV’s and
Smart Watches, we are seeing a more personal, more contextually specific, more relevant web.
This is the th’internet.
It’s a weird way to look at it, but the desktop internet is deep.
You view it in a browser, access it by a portal, and drill down to explore articles and click on links, that
take you across and down, ever further and further “down into” the internet, to smaller, deeper parts of
the web, each become more specific to your interests, but less expansive.
It’s primarily deep because of the vast amounts of information and the old fashioned way of arranging
data by directory and portal, but the main reason is because people are in control. It’s us who decide
what we want, it’s us that need the specificity of a single article, we need to know how to find the things
Apps changed everything, apps were personal tight portals that shone a light onto a very specific part
of the internet that each app signified. A “sports score” app would be a magnifying glass ignoring pretty
much everything in the world except tiny parts of the web where it could automatically find, extract and
bubble up the key information it knew you needed. “Weather”, “News”, “Yelp” are all the same, merely
“micro” portals to the places we want to look into. Some apps become even more specific, they would
layer through your personal data to extract only tiny bits of information specific only to you, your
Banking app would ignore everything in the entire world and supply you with your bank balance, your
Airline app would bring to the surface your flight time.
This was the start of the th’internet.
An internet of Apps.
Now as we continue to spend longer and longer online on our phones, and even longer still in app,
our experience of the internet has changed.
We once used portals to find what we wanted, Yahoo, Infoseek,
We then moved to Search to find what we needed, everything changed with Google and Ask
We now have a curious hybrid of Social Discovery though content portals like Twitter and
Facebook and Deep search with Google.
The true benefit of apps is the personalization, Every app already signs you in, knows where you
are, etc. So as App use grows, I see the rise of the internet of Apps, where rather than moving
from deep content, back to portals or twitter, we move from app to app.
Advances like Facebook Applinks and Googles equivalent protocol will mean that apps become a
connected web of apps.
What sets out as finding a film to watch becomes booking tickets, becomes sharing tickets with
friends, becomes finding a place to eat, becomes booking a spot becomes using a map to get
It’s a constantly personal, constantly in app experience.
Who is in Control?
A key part of the thinner web is about who is in control.
The reason for the depth of the web was about people finding information, it needed to be
arranged that way.
But the new web will be about contextually relevant information bubbled up at the right time. It will
be a mixture of hyper personal and predictive information.
When you have Google Now, Siri and Cortana, we’ll see the rise in the internet as and ambient
When we first wake up in the morning we may be shown our diary for the day, the weather forecast
and the news headlines.
As we walk towards a cashpoint our phones may display our bank balance on our watch.
As we walk down the street we may have restaurant reviews bubble up as we walk past, when we
send text to our friends about movies, we may be offered directions to the movie theatre, as we sit
on the train we could be offered music.
The internet becomes a predictive ambient layer of contextual information, that we don’t instigate.
We’ve an array of screens around us that make little sense to do “searching” on. Anyone who has
tried to surf the internet on the TV has had a terrible experience. But that doesn’t mean we don’t
want contextually relevant information.
The thinner web will be about extracting key live data and presenting it to us in different ways.
Nobody wants to search on the internet for things on the TV, but we love contextual information, it’s
easy to see the rise of smart widgets which open up and extract key information we may need. It
could be stock prices, it could be the weather, we could receive urgent notifications, or get a thin
layer of twitter feed like social posts to embellish our tv watching.
Watches offer a terrible screen for any remotely deep experience, but as a way to offer pulses to
guide us to our location, as a way to see that a person we know is nearby, when a hairdresser we
are walking past has a sudden cancellation and is offering a reduced haircut, as a way to be
informed that we are running late, or that our train has changed platform, this is a perfect way to
get key snippets of thin information.
Borderline predictive, we’re seeing a growth in apps that use contextual clues like your location,
time of day, calendar and recently used functions to become optimized to your needs.
Humin for example arranges your phone book based on who it thinks you are most likely to want to
EverythingMe arranges the icons on
your homepage based on what you’re
likely to want to do, depending on that
What’s the thinnest app of them all? An app you never see but is always running.
Some like Foursquares Swarm do things without telling you and are truly invisible, merely there to check you
into locations and update your social feeds.
Others like DarkSky come to life infrequently ( except in the UK!) to tell you a few moments before it rains.
Invisible apps are the thinnest of all internet experiences, just tiny micro pulses of key information at the right
time and place.
The best way to avoid the homepage is to never have to visit it, the
notification layer becomes a key surface to communicate in a number of
Hyper simple messaging like Beer, or
Yo, allow you to (barely) communicate
directly in this layer.
Texts and messages in iOS 8’s new update
allow you to hold long conversations without
ever needed to deviate.
iBeacons will soon sent messages straight into
this notification layer.
News services like Drop or Push,
offer news with no need to leave the
homepage too. Here the notification
IS the app.
Hyper Simple Apps
Push for Pizza - a button
for ordering a pizza
Tinder - Dating with few filters
The nothing app.
Ethan - allows you to
Not so much Thinner, as more direct. We’re seeing a
plethora of super simple, super direct apps. While
many like Ethan or Nothing are a joke, more like
Some like Tinder raise interesting questions about the
degree of simplicity and specificity that is useful in an
app. If you can select your life partner with a swipe,
what other parts of life can be made more simple and
Remember the Web 2.0, it was about scraping content from places within the web and pulling through
data,it lead to sites like Yahoo Pipes where iFrames where used to gather content from deep within the
web and make a flat personalized page.
Well API’s offer the same functionality but in a whole new way, here everyone can reach more deeply into
companies own internal systems and provide new interface layers to allow that same back end to
propagate across the web.
Companies like Uber have opened up their API’s meaning that airline Apps, or calendar appointments or
restaurant booking sites can now pull through live prices, live availability and create bookings seamlessly
while in the App. BestBuy opened it’s API 2 years ago to allow them to spread their storefront onto
With more examples from service
providers and retailers, soon the
storefront will be spread seamlessly
across the internet in one flat
Even the keyboards and input devices we use are disappearing.
From voice control to eyeball movements, from phones to wearables, our bodies are becoming both the
controller and the interface. Why type a password or stand in a checkout line when you can use your
fingerprint or retina? The interface as we know it will disappear.
Motorola Hint, a bluetooth
Myo - an armband that can move cursors
Projected storefronts become new screens
Leapmotion, move things in 3D air.
While a lot of effort has gone into this document, no predictions are ever perfect and few are
intended to be.
The value of this document isn’t in certainty, it’s about exploration.
This document is about asking questions, entertaining scenarios, stress testing ideas.
But, above all else it’s about triggering creativity, what new opportunities does this way of thinking
create? how does this frame of reference inspire?
So you’ve got this much for free, it’s pretty profound and asks many more questions.
It’s the tip of the iceberg, you will note that examples and demonstrations are lacking in particular.
If you want a presentation and explanation.
If you want to discuss these in detail.
If you want to ideate around what new opportunities this provides, what threats will materialize,.
Please contact me.
The Tomorrow Group is based New York and London, but we have planes and phones in 2014.