If anybody should be able to predict the future, John Allsopp is more qualified than most. He is, after all, the man who just might have coined the inglorious term ‘Web 2.0' (he can document his usage of it before Tim O'Reilly popularised the phrase).
Allsopp is also feted as one of responsive design's founding fathers. His essay, ‘A Dao of Web Design' was published in 2000. In it he encourages designers to let go of print's rigidity and embrace the web's fluidity. Ethan Marcotte cites Allsopp's essay as one of his key inspirations.
The medical web
"People think the future is about jetpacks, " Allsopp asserts, waving his hands. "You know, sometimes we believe the future has to be awesome, and if it's not we're disappointed."
The future, according to Allsopp, is likely to be rather more Last Of The Summer Wine than Minority Report.
Think about it, he challenges: "The fact is, if you can keep a significant percentage of old people in their home for another year, the savings will be huge."Allsopp's groundbreaking essay 'A Dao of Web Design' was published in 2000.
To achieve this doesn't require complex, impressive systems – all we need are basic, web-enabled monitors that record and broadcast heart rates and the like.
"It's not just about saving money. They'll have dignity, they'll have control. And that could be done using a humble mobile phone. What greater opportunity? What greater challenge?" That, to Allsopp, is a future worth pursuing, and there's not a jetpack, exoskeleton or internet-enabled fridge in sight.
A new maturity
"You know, I think we have a good understanding of the challenges – from a visual design perspective – of designing for a screen, " he replies.
"There's a degree of maturity and we're increasingly getting the solutions right. I think the work on the picture element by the Responsive Images Community Group was fantastic.Allsopp says we need to guard against making products that are too complex.
"For the first time, the people who used the technology – people who work at the coal-face, making things, web designers and web developers – they got up and they shaped what a technology should actually look like, and how it should work. And it was done in the face of objection."