At last week’s PandoMonthly, Sarah Lacy asked Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers general partner John Doerr if Twitter will join Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google as the “fifth horseman of tech.” His answer, fitting for a guy who dreams big, had little to do with Twitter’s market share or valuation, and everything to do with how we experience the world.
In Doerr’s vision of the future, tablets and other mobile devices will be used as “simulation engines,” or real-time windows into environments and experiences we couldn’t otherwise enjoy.
“Instead of just using Google Maps to figure out what’s going on at Stanford, and it being in real-time,” Doerr said, “you’ll drill through Google Maps, to the buildings, into the classrooms, understanding what the lectures are, being able to go forward or backward in time from that place and that experience.”
In other words, those apps we use to check the traffic or the weather or the nearby restaurants of a given location, are just the tip of the iceberg. As mobile devices continue to improve their computing power, tablets and phones will eventually have the capability to virtually transport us anywhere on the planet, so long as there are people (or machines) recording what’s happening there. If that makes your mind reel with creepy possibilities, think about how this technology could be used to revolutionize education or even medicine. Why not dive into someone’s DNA?
But wait, wasn’t the original question about Twitter?
“Twitter can be the central connective tissue of communications among those simulations,” Doerr said.
So there you have it. What better platform to consolidate real-time information than the one everybody already uses? And we’re not just talking about human beings tweeting. As Nathaniel Mott wrote earlier this month (with no small measure of alarm), everyday objects, from toasters to toilets, are starting to use Twitter to broadcast real-time data for all the world to behold.
You’ll never get away with tweeting on the toilet again.
Watch the following clip to hear Doerr describe this brave new world himself:
[Illustration by Hallie Bateman]