Internet watchers find cyberspace becoming ever more interconnected

The Web is looking more like TV and TV is looking more like the Web. Full-length network programs are available online and many shows promote Web-only "webisodes."

There are too many online video channels to list here, but leads the pack. The next time your conversation includes something seen on TV, head to YouTube, Google Video or another video site to search for the clip, and more often than not you'll find exactly what you're looking for.

Convergence of the small screen (TV) and the computer screen is happening all the time, with full convergence of the media expected within five years, many Internet leaders say. A survey of 150 top figures of the Net, including Google Chief Internet Evangelist Vinton Cerf, former Walt Disney Co. CEO Michael Eisner and columnist-blogger Arianna Huffington, shows that 62 percent predict full convergence by 2012 and 31 percent say it will happen by 2009.

Last month's WebbyConnect summit in Laguna Beach, Calif., brought together past Webby Award winners, leaders in technology, advertising, entertainment, design and politics to discuss the future of the Net and emerging media.

"The dominant theme throughout WebbyConnect was that media convergence is inevitable, but there are still some challenges," said David-Michel Davies, executive director of the Webby Awards, in a statement. "It's no longer a matter of when, but how."

Add mobile devices to the mix, too, according to Cerf, who is often referred to as one of the Internet's founding fathers.

"Most of the 5 billion people left who are not yet online will encounter the Internet first through mobile devices," he said.

Other WebbyConnect survey results include:

•43 percent of attendees would be willing to have ads appear on their mobile phones in exchange for cheaper or free service.

•48 percent predict voters in the United States will cast ballots online for president by 2016, with 11 percent predicting it could happen as soon as 2012.

•59 percent share a link to an online video with friends and family at least once a week, with 18 percent of those sharing at least five videos weekly.

•59 percent are members of at least one social network, with 13 percent of those members of more than five social networks. (MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc...)

•66 percent said their personal memory had declined in the past three years.

•84 percent "Google" potential employees.

Those are the thoughts of the ultraconnected in our society. What do you think? When will your PC and TV become one? When will you cast your first official online ballot? How many social networks do you belong to?

Send your comments with the subject: "predictions" and I'll use the best in a future column.

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