Fill in the blank:
“In the next five to ten years, your ____________ will be as commonly used as your phone number.”
Here's a few suggestions off the top of my head:
- AOL screen name
- MySpace ID
- Facebook URL
- Skype ID
- LinkedIn Profile
- Twitter ID
If you answered any of the above – or any other service like them – you're wrong. The only thing that will be as ubiquitous in five to ten years as your phone number is your phone number.
Every time a new social service pops up and gets moderately popular, we get a prediction about how mainstream it will get and how it will revolutionize modern communication. It hasn't been true yet. As much as I love Twitter, and I do, the truth is that to the vast majority of humans, it's nothing – they've never even heard of it. To the majority of people who have heard of it, it's nothing more than a fad. To its active users, Twitter is anything from a nifty communication tool to the digital equivalent of the next coming of Christ. Considering we're nearing seven billion people on this planet, having a user base of a few million isn't very impressive in a as-common-as-a-phone-number kind of way.
The only thing that has given the telephone a run for its money in the modern age is email – a non-proprietary, open method of communication that is not under the control or regulation of any single company. It has many, many faults – not the least of which is that it's a method of written communication.
My parents still prefer to talk to my daughter over the phone.