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Earlier this year at a press conference with the Washington Post, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said something fascinating:

In the next 10 years, the whole world of media, communications and advertising are going to be turned upside down — my opinion.

Here are the premises I have. Number one, there will be no media consumption left in 10 years that is not delivered over an IP network. There will be no newspapers, no magazines that are delivered in paper form. Everything gets delivered in an electronic form.

Around the same time, in a not-so-sudden turn of events, newspapers and magazines downsized to accommodate for the ever-declining interest in hard-copy media. You may hear media pundits in denial go on about how the Internet is the reason behind the publishing industry’s decline – but the truth is print pubs have been on the outs since the mid-1960s.

The current state of online media

Taking the place of our favorite newspapers and magazines are websites and portals that serve as aggregators, taking the work out of information consumption and making life a little bit easier to live, like the iGoogle homepage, for example – where everything you could possibly want or need is right at your fingertips: news, e-mail, stock prices, weather, productivity tips, inspirational quotes, art, search tools, media, and much more.

In addition to making our lives easier, with the rise of social media, the Internet has dramatically transformed the way we relate to each other and absorb information. It’s never been easier to connect with an old friend, make a valuable business contact, share opinions, find a date for that holiday party, or discover others who like the same music you do, using sites like Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn.

Who’s on third? It depends who you ask

The result of these changes is an increasingly blurred line between communication and advertising. What seems at first like a comment on our favorite blog is actually a cleverly disguised marketing ploy for the latest web scam or diet pill. Your best friend’s Facebook profile tells you she likes the band ‘Little Dragon,’ but this tiny piece of social data also serves as a powerful word-of-mouth promotion.

With the convergence of media and communication pushing steadily forward and the emergence of more Web 2.0 related services that promise to fulfill our every desire and streamline our lives, 2009 promises to be an exciting and innovative year. Come back on Wednesday for a quick overview of five online trends to expect in 2009 and what we really think of them.

See you soon!

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