It must be tough being a futurist. No sooner have you laid out some likely scenarios for the way technology will go than either a) it happens and people forget how farsighted you were, or b) it doesn't and you lose another piece of credibility. Last year my futurist friend David Greenop contributed an excellent chapter about Smart Homes, Dumb Homes and Media Rich Homes to a book we did with Drew Mackie about technology in social housing. You can read it all here. David was looking forward to 2007, but as I was browsing the magazine racks recently I came upon Digital Home - Technology for Life.
There's a big section on home networking...'from wireless web surfing to multiroom AV and whole house control, creating an integrated home network has never been easier' with options from £3000 - £30,000 that bears a passing resemblance to the vision David was painting.
Having said that, David was looking well beyond what you can do with the kit, and begins to explore the wider information and communications ecologies likely to develop as our options for connection increase, and our many communication devices join up at home and elsewhere.
David suggests at least six different types of network that we may be engaged in:
* personal: close bonds with family and friends
* associational: relationships with people we encounter regularly - friends, neighbours, work colleagues, shopkeepers - where our interaction usually derives from particular roles or circumstances
* organisational: interactions with organisations rather than particular individuals
* casual: interactions between unconnected persons or groups, often the stuff of lasting acquaintance
* observational: interactions at a distance, sometimes between observed and anonymous observe
* virtual: interactions with artificial entities. In the future, contacts with virtual agents, artificial guides, home-helpers and medical assistants may produce significant relationships.
You can read more about David's visions for personal networks in the April/June 2002 issue of The Journal of the Communications Network in a joint article with Richard Cupidi "Getting Personal - finding a place in cyberspace". Contents page with download here.