In Memoriam: How David Bowie Envisioned The Internet Years Ago

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16 years ago when the Web was strictly 1.0, Google was but in its nascent state, and there were a mere 361 million Internet users, David Bowie had made one of the most visionary statements about the future of the Internet:

What the Internet is going to do to society is unimaginable

Indeed, with more than 3 billion Internet users today, one can safely accede that Bowie’s prediction has come to fruition.

In 2000, Bowie was interviewed by the prominent British journalist Jeremy Paxman, where he talked in depth about how the Internet would affect various industries in general and the music industry in particular. We have embedded a view of the BBC interview below, if you would like to hear the futuristic ideas that Bowie expressed during the interview.

After calling the Internet “an alien life form,” Bowie goes on to explain his opinion about the potential of the Internet:

We’re on the cusp of something exhilarating and terrifying. The actual context and the state of content is going to be so different to anything we can envisage at the moment — the interplay between the user and the provider will be so in simpatico it’s going to crush our ideas of what mediums are all about

With those simple, yet terrifyingly accurate lines, Bowie had summed up the very future of how content would be consumed by Internet users. Back in 2000, Internet was not the organically growing entity that it has become today. Indeed, today every kind of business can be carried out online. In global commerce, cars, mobiles, cosmetics, electronics, and even holidays can be compared and bought by users on the Internet. A musical instrument dealer in Asia can easily sell their products through an online retailer to a private buyer in Arizona in the US.

Yet, with the rapid online globalization, and the unprecedented amount of products and services offered online, the Internet is experiencing a colossal content explosion. This can easily result in chaos for the users, unless global businesses begin to localize their content in order to make it more useable and less confusing for buyers. Localization helps build a “simpatico” relationship “between the user and the provider.”

The fact that localization has become an absolute must-have for any business has become widely accepted within the industry. A recent study by  OHT-Enterprise that attempts to understand online buying habits, found that an overwhelming 66% of the respondents either regularly, or occasionally leave websites that are not in their native tongue.

Bowie’s brilliant futuristic prediction about the context of the content on the Internet has come true. However, to ensure that the “alien life form” of the Internet does not turn into a “chaotic and nihilistic” force for the Internet users, content producers should be responsible for publishing content that is easily understandable, easy to disseminate and simple to use.

Bowie

We selected our favourite Bowie songs to remember the iconoclastic musician. These songs are dedicated to everyone within the KantanMT community who shares our grief and disappointment at the death of one of the most powerful idol of our generation:

Please feel free to leave your tributes in the space below.

Finally, here are some related articles that may be of interest:

To find out how integrating Custom Machine Translation within the localization workflow will help increase revenue and provide better user experience, mail us today at info@kantanmt.com.

One thought on “In Memoriam: How David Bowie Envisioned The Internet Years Ago

  1. David Bowie has been ubiquitous in my life. Growing up in the 70’s in Argentina one of the first albums I bought was Space Oddity. Then in the 80’s in US, dancing to China Girl and Changes at our HIgh School Prom. Man, he will be missed.

    Liked by 1 person

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