Once the net becomes ubiquitous like power and water, it had the potential to be “transformative”. The divide that separates people from their online lives will utterly disappear. Instead of leaving behind all those net-based friends and activities when you walk out of your front door, you will be able to take them with you.

The buddies you have on instant message networks, friends and family on e-mail, your eBay auctions, your avatars in online games, the TV shows you have stored on disk, your digital pictures, your blog – everything will be just a click away.

It could also kick off entirely new ways of living, working and playing. For instance, restaurant reviews could be geographically tagged so as soon as you approach a cafe or coffee shop, the views of recent diners could scroll up on your handheld gadget.

Key to the transformation would be mobile devices that can use wi-fi. These handsets are only just starting to appear but will likely cram a huge amount of functions into one gadget.

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