What the web might look like in 2014

This weekend I read a fascinating article entitled “Weaving A New Web” from the March issue of Discover. The whole article is worth a read, but one quote struck me as especially noteworthy. Here’s what Paul Connolly of Cisco has to say about the web of the very-near future:

Our stake in the ground is that global Internet traffic will quadruple by 2014, and we believe 90 percent of consumer traffic will be video-based.

As astounding as the fourfold increase in traffic is, the “90 percent” comment stopped me in my tracks. I’ve long believed that people would much rather watch a well done 90-second video than read a 500-word blog post, but right now the web runs on text more than anything else. It’s hard to imagine such a dramatic shift, but if we’ve learned anything about the Internet in recent years, it’s that dramatic shifts are more the rule than the exception.

What’s your opinion on Connolly’s quote? Do you believe it’s overstated, or on the mark–and why?

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9 Responses to What the web might look like in 2014

  1. Amber Recker says:

    I believe it it- even if I don’t want to. Personally, I’d rather read than watch a video, but I realize that I may be in the minority. Regardless, it will be interesting to watch what happens 🙂

  2. Perhaps overstated, but we know it’s definitely heading that way. Like Amber, I would rather ‘take a break’ from reading and watch/listen to a video run (sometimes in the background w/o my full attention).

    Also, video is more personal — the written form has a much shorter history then the oral tradition.

    An aside (kind of): Perhaps the overlooked piece of video is that it requires the same discipline of writing/working out your thoughts, plus recording in a format that is partially polished (decent sound, decent lighting…), in that it doesn’t distract from the message. We will overlook poor video quality (to a point) and in direct proportion to how good/credible we believe the information will be.

  3. Tammy Davis says:

    If videos were truly 90 seconds, I might watch them, but so many videos are grossly overdone. Who has time for an 8-minute extravaganza? I always put those in my “to check later” stash, but I almost never go back to them. I can read a lot faster than that.

    A more specific observation: if web traffic is predicted to quadruple, there will still be a lot of written content out there, even if it is only 10% of the grand total. Regardless of medium–written word or video–it has to be GOOD to really make a difference. How do we get people to focus on making GOOD stuff, not just LOTS of stuff?

  4. ajjuliano says:

    Thanks for the comments, everyone.

    Amber, as a former English major, I want writing to win. But I find myself gravitating toward video much more often these days.

    Craig, your parenthetical comment (“sometimes in the background w/o my full attention”) is worth remembering. Your video might encourage the audience to multi task, which might make them less than attentive to your message.

    And Tammy, your comment piggybacks nicely with Craig’s. Great writing will get read. Great videos will get watched. But if it’s mediocre (too long, for example), it doesn’t stand a chance in an environment with so much good content to choose from.

  5. The evolution to video saddens me.

    While I agree with many of the previous comments, this signals a move to mindless brain candy which is where a lot of the available television programming has gone on both the major broadcast networks and cable channels.

    I read the internet.

    If video’s are used to enhance that experience than I am in favor, if video’s are used as a substitute for reading and the content sinks the way television programming has, then we are in trouble.

    And now for a differing opinion:

    Because the “cost of programming” online allows virtually anyone to set up their own channel, the good stuff that I want to find online will still be there too. So this will be an expanding universe, the only finite part is the amount of time an individual has which has never expanded beyond 24 hours (minus sleep).

  6. Marc-Alain Reviere says:

    Ultimately, I think it depends on how “consumer traffic” is defined and quantified.

    A few days ago, Cisco dropped a different piece: “Cisco Visual Networking Index: Forecast and Methodology, 2010-2015” – http://bit.ly/m1PCGF

    Taken from the report – unless I’m missing something – it appears they’ve revised the numbers:

    “Internet video is now 40 percent of consumer Internet traffic, and will reach 62 percent by the end of 2015, not including the amount of video exchanged through P2P file sharing. The sum of all forms of video (TV, video on demand [VoD], Internet, and P2P) will continue to be approximately 90 percent of global consumer traffic by 2015.”

    The exponential rise of video traffic, it’s all very interesting – I just don’t envision the internet turning into a television with unlimited channels.

    Long live …. uh, words!

  7. Studies have shown that Gen X is more responsive to visual cues than the Baby Boom generation. The Millennial’s also possess a greater affinity to visual media stimulation but also value written content as long as it is brief and to the point. Connolly has been correct before in his assumptions and it would be hard to dispute his claims considering the vast R&D capacities that Cisco has at their disposal. Perhaps we should also realize that web traffic figures might also include something other than human demand. There are plenty of AI applications that are at work accessing data from the web as well.

  8. I heard it first-hand in our student focus groups…they want short videos, not mountains of text. I don’t think you can equate that to laziness though. I believe it’s the result of growing up in an environment with constant media stimulation. The company that shouts the loudest wins their attention and video does that over text any day.

    On a separate note, the geek in me wonders how our current infrastructure can handle a quadruple increase in traffic with the vast majority being video content. My feeling is that the big providers will have to invest tons of money to upgrade their networks which they will invariably pass along to consumers. I’m concerned that this will make internet service unattainable to some and that goes against the underlying principle of the openness of the world wide web.

  9. ajjuliano says:

    Kim:

    Thanks for the comment–great to hear from you, and great insight.

    Michelle:

    Thanks for the comment. You’ll definitely want to read the Discover article. It included a great deal of discussion about how networks are planning to handle all of the traffic. It would be a good read for a self-described geek!

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