Previous media have generally gone through a period in which their navigational systems were unsettled, but then developed stabled systems that lasted for at least a couple of generations. Libraries certainly did. Television spawned tables of channels, times, and shows that are still in use today. Newspapers developed a semantic lay out and use of fonts that is so standard that for generations all newspapers have looked and worked basically the same.
So, will the Internet’s navigation systems follow the same pattern? Will they settle down so that over the course of several generations, the Net will look and work basically the same? Even within particular functional areas, say, search engines? Or will we be constantly innovating the basic navigational systems of the Net? Or, will some systems become settled â€” say, search engines with text entry boxes (and their oral equivalent) and lists of results â€” while there is wild innovation in other areas?
I don’t know, of course. But, if I had to bet, I’d say that we’re in for perpetual innovation, with some inventions lasting longer than others. The Net may be the exception to the pattern because of its scale, its complexity, and the ease with which anyone can innovate.
(This of course assumes we continue to have an open Internet. But that’s a hobby horse for another trail.)