"The most important thing anybody in business should do is see the internet as a telecommunications and information distribution platform, because that's ultimately what it is."
The corner office of a high rise in one of the little business clusters that exist in and around Los Angeles is in what movie producers will call "the magic hour," -- just at the end of the day. It's a quiet Friday afternoon ending a productive and busy week. Outside, somebody's flying a kite, visible from a wall of windows opposite me. I've joined a hotly debated conversation about the future of the internet already in progress. Three young, hip professionals and business minds are already seated around a desk, some on chairs, one is standing. I'm the only woman in the room.
"The internet has always been able to foster communications of all kinds of form," I continue, sinking into the empty black leather couch near the door. I'm dressed in Joe's darkwash trouser jeans, a black top and cardi-wrap, with black wedge heels, and keep fidding with the silver cocktail ring on my right hand. It's been a busy week.
"What's really going on is the masses' early adoption of these tools -- first in email, then instant message, now social networks, etc. It's a natural part of what the internet is here to do."
I make a claim for viewing the internet for what it is: A communications and information distribution platform. Unlike the other five platforms in our society, the internet can do everything that 1. Printed media can do. 2. That broadcast TV can do. 3. That landline telephone can do. 4. That radio can do, and 5. That mobile telephone can do. That's why the internet was created and why it is here.
The room includes one two-time Ph.D., a tech genius and a smart, rising star business executive in addition to my internet telecommunications and information distribution engineering and business background. The debate is lively and highly technical like many I've been in over the course of my work. As we talk, I continue to paint a picture of what the future will be like based on the facts of what the internet is here to do. It's less opinion than fact, based entirely on years spent in the creation and proliferation of the internet, in addition to how it relates to older legacy platforms like broadcast TV and landline telephone.
The most important thing to understand about the social internet is that it is only getting started and will likely change and shift in different ways from here. The internet has always been able to foster communication between people, or the social web. In the past this has existed via email and IM. Today, it's via social networks and expanding into new areas, like video and voice. It's what is meant to happen.
It's nothing that business or industries should be afraid of -- moreso, it's something to be capitalizes on and understood. Disruptive technologies and innovations offer incredible opportunities -- but only if you understand and take advantage of them. When it comes to people using the internet to communicate with each other, watch for expansion of this trend including new means to do so like video, and expansion on existing means like voice calls. As the conversation continues against the backlight of the day's sunset, I find myself continuously referencing Apple and Google, both of which (and only which) are the most savvy in terms of where the internet -- and the future -- is heading.
I cut out of the meeting to head home -- it's Friday after all! -- and say one last thing.
"Nobody spent millions and millions of dollars on its development and proliferation so that people could use Twitter and Facebook. It's bigger, and everybody in business needs to see it that way in order to take full advantage of it."
The internet was created to change how we receive information and communicate. Businesses that learn more about this have the potential to benefit from it in ways people have only begun to understand.