HUGE: On the Future of the Open Web in 1, 5, and 10 Years


Alright, so trying to predict the digital future can be a bit… risky. For every Zuckerberg-esque stroke of foresight, there have been far more embarrassing missteps, say, an insane 1995 Newsweek editorial explaining why the internet could never last as an information source, or a long-removed-from-the-web SNL sketch I remember from my childhood, mocking texting as a clunky, illogical medium. It’s definitely a gamble.

But if anyone’s equipped to do it, it’s probably the award-winning minds at HUGE, the digital advertising juggernaut behind OKCupid’s much-discussed new blind dating app, HBO GO, and countless other campaigns that have quietly become part of daily life. The company has not only survived more than a decade’s worth of relentless digital shakeups, they’ve thrived, taking on numerous foreign offices, hundreds more employees, an endless string of high-profile clients. And after all, it’s their job not just to think about the answers to inevitable questions about our future with the web, but to think of the right ones.

As such, we went to their offices to meet with a roundtable of in-house experts (Communications Director Sam Weston, Director of Search Andrew Delamarter, Senior Analyst Hannah Poferl, and Principal Developer Jose Muanis), and asked them to look into their respective crystal balls — that is how this stuff works, isn’t it? — on what, exactly, may lie ahead in the next decade for the “open web” as we know it. Anything could happen, it seems, but a few things are more clear than others.

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  1. Back in the 1980s, I was a “computer educator.” I would go into public schools in Florida school districts and train teachers on the use of computers and how to program in Basic and other languages. At that point, states began mandating that students learn computer languages and programming. Texas had a curriculum in which elementary school students would learn the language Logo, middle school students Basic, and high school students Pascal. Even at the time, I could see that this was all flawed, and you can see that in the history of technologies like the automobile, where in the beginning, every driver has to be a mechanic and understand his or her car’s operation and how to make repairs. But then professionals took over. In 1984, I took a graduate course in education in a language called PILOT (Programmed Instruction, Learning, Or Teaching) which enabled teachers to program quizzes and tests and other educational materials before there was much off-the-shelf software. By the end of the 1980s, all this was utterly beside the point as it was obvious that a few professionals could do the work and that most lay people just needed to be end users of a product. So I am skeptical that in the future, people will have to know how to code.