I am a technology "junky" and I suspect that most people who read my blog regularly or read an occasional blog post from a web search are the same. It is not easy to predict which currently used technologies will end up having a huge impact on human society, but it is fun to make educated guesses.
As much as I have been enjoying programming in Scala and Clojure (and some Ruby and Java) I doubt that improvements in programming languages and development tools will profoundly impact society, the economy, and quality of life in general.
I also don't think that new "gadget technology" will profoundly effect society, with a possible exception being very low cost smart phones in developing countries.
As you can tell by the title of this article, my bet is that the semantic features of HTML5 will have a profound effect on society. I have several reasons for this bet:
- Semantic tags in HTML5 are minimal but sufficient for web analysis software to detect different types of content, make it easier to separate out HTML for navigation vs. content, etc.
- Motivation: web sites with legitimate content (i.e., not link farm sites, etc.) that properly use HTML5 semantic tags will have better search engine optimization. This motivation will probably be a "secret sauce" for HTML5 adoption.
- It has been a long time since Tim Berners-Lee and others introduced the concepts for the semantic web (I have had embedded RDF on some of my web sites for 10+ years) and despite a lot of skepticism, interest and utilization of linked data and semantic web technologies are gaining momentum.
Of less importance than support for the semantic web, is the support for rich client applications that are reasonably portable. I believe that wide spread use of HTML5 will reduce the costs of publishing rich content.