In my book, Post-Modem: The Interwebs Explained, I discuss many of my favorite Internet Future Theories, including building colonies on Internet. One noticeably absent subject, however, is how we will refer to Interwebs, Internets and Webules in the future. This might seem trivial, but imagine those who said the same thing in the early part of the 20th century.
“How silly! Who cares how we might refer to bandages in this imaginary future. Whether we refer to them as finger stick ’ems, handages or Band-Aids, the blood will cease!”
How silly, indeed. Is what I would say to this hypothetical person. It might seem harsh to use their own words against them, but again, ignorance of the eventualities that time will bring is not an excuse for not understanding how things will work out. Forethought is key when divining what the future holds, and that is what I hoped this segment of my book to be, should I have conceived of it before it went to press.
Ten years ago, did we assume that “searching” on the Internet would soon turn a brand name into an verb? When “Hotbotting” didn’t catch on, did we not bristle at the attempt to make “Googling” a household word? Let us not ignore the great possibilities ahead of us when we look deep into ourselves as a culture to discover what will be the “Kleenex” that becomes synonymous with “Internet.”
Naturally, the first assumption is that we might stick with the shortened version we use to refer to our surfing experiences, like Net, Web or “Dot C A,” as it is spoken in Canada. But, again, these still refer very specifically to the actual Internet itself. It would be like calling a wooden writing implement a “graphite holder.” We can be certain the heirs to the Pencil, Inc fortune thank their lucky stars every day that we don’t.
The second assumption we might make is that “Googling” will make the logical jump for the Internet to simply be called “Google,” given the ubiquity of its services, or the frequency of its homepageness. Perhaps, still, another contender, not yet on the scene, will make itself known and become the new Google.
But I contend that the winner of the name-branded Internet will be the company that perfects the web browser. Nay, the company who owns the naming rights to said browser. Branding Internet before you even get to it is the key to changing our perception of it. Will it be one of the world’s most profitable companies? Possibly. Purchasing the naming rights to an entire service could motivate diversification in a company with the strictest of business models. Imagine if one single company essentially owned the trademark on what we call an entire foodstuff, drinkstuff or snackstuff. Even regionally, such a coup would make the company so powerful that all stuffs would be required to be served with a side of them.
Given typical internet success stories, however, I believe that Internet will re-brand as as the result of a start-up. Not just a start-up, but a crowd-funded start-up. The internet is built on sharing, on networking, on digitally communing, and on turning all of those things into a willingness to pump something full of funds with none of the benefits of ownership. The next browser will come from you, if you’re the type of person who likes to crowdfund, so whatever the name, it will be, in a sense, sort of yours, almost. Unless, of course, Kleenex buys that browser from the owner of the crowdfunding campaign.
Until next time – Good Kleenexing.
- Jason C. Klamm, B.A.