In the not-so-distant future, the average person will find information falling into one of three categories:
- Forbidden Information (circuit diagrams, satellite ephemeris, “intellectual property,” etc.)
- Purchased Information (“Entertainment,” music, movies, games)
- Pushed, Mandatory Information (advertising, propaganda)
Forbidden information, while available to some small group in order to perform their jobs, will be increasingly restricted under the twin guises of Intellectual Property and Homeland Security. Within twenty years, it will be illegal to design even simple circuits outside of sanctioned workplaces; similarly, computer programming will require licensing and security clearances.
Purchased information will be controlled by The Almighty Google Corporation (TAGC). Even information that people are permitted to create on their own will only be sharable to the world through a Google-controlled mini-payment system. Purchased information will also be inextricably meshed with Mandatory Information — to view your cousin’s wedding pictures, you will be obligated to view advertising from banquet companies or wedding registry providers, or perhaps even a Public Service Announcement on the evils of divorce.
The twist on all this is that bandwidth will be free. TAGC will have the world blanketed in a high-speed wireless network. You’ll site down in an overpriced coffee chain, open up your computer, and immediately be connected to virtually unlimited bandwidth so you can download as much Entertainment as you can afford. TAGC will, of course, use you location and search histories to inform you that you’re only a mile from a franchise of your favorite Bagel place, and it’s nearly lunchtime, and if you go now, you won’t get anxious and depressed later, so you can quit taking Paxil (that is why you were searching for information on the side-effects, isn’t it? Admit it. You sent a Gmail Message to your doctor on the subject too). What’s more, on the way, you’ll pass a Multinational Flower Distributor Outlet on the way, and you might want to keep in mind that you had a bit of a spat with the significant other (based on the frequency of the Gmails the other day, and the mood-assessor’s analysis of the vocabulary used), so this would be a good opportunity to patch things up — we would have recommend the Fancy Chocolatier across the way, but your significant other has been searching for diet information, so better play it safe…