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What does the future hold for the Web?

Ten years ago, the Web was in its infancy. It was the realm of the computer geek. E-mail had not yet relegated mail to "snail-dom."

Ten years on and the Web has already survived its first mid-life crisis with the implosion of the Internet bubble. Millions of people from every walk of life connect. A variety of professions from Wall Street to Main Street rely on the Web to get work done.

But what do the next 10 years hold for the Web?

Regulation. Chaos.

As the Web matures, government will most certainly step in to capture sales taxes. Content providers will increasingly come to the conclusion that to make their Web divisions profitable, they will have to institute subscriptions to their sites. In a myriad of ways, the Web as we know it is already transforming.

Regulation of the Web will amplify the opportunities to develop new revenue streams for almost every business. Data feeds will rise in importance, as business will further mine the Web with sales generation in mind. And while the traditional sales call will never go the way of the dinosaurs, the role of the Internet to facilitate transactions will grow ever more central.

Even as the Web matures -- and government steps in to tax e-commerce -- chaos will reign from across national boundaries. This chaos will cause seismic shifts in today's software marketplace leading to the death of companies that rely on code. As piracy continues to spread, the lack of a central authority will allow hackers to exploit weaknesses in the universal fabric of the Internet.

Ensuring secure and uninterrupted access to information will become paramount as the Web becomes both more secure through governments' involvement and less secure through hacking -- perhaps even global terrorism. Businesses that have unfettered data to their traditional marketplaces will be in good stead.

The changes being wrought today will have a profound effect on everything from worker productivity to company balance sheets. But harnessing the Web as an engine of growth will require access to information.

The Daily Transcript -- in the forefront of the Web migration 10 years ago -- is already laying the groundwork for the next 10 years by increasing our investment in software and hardware to upgrade and surpass our high standards of excellence on the Web.

Our dedication to the San Diego community has given rise to the Morning Briefing, a daily column that captures the market intelligence other media outlets ignore. A new feature called the Daily Digest appears each day at 11 a.m. to provide a succinct recap of the morning's moves by San Diego's publicly-traded companies. Watch for the evolution of our content as we take an even more focused approach to breaking San Diego business news at sddt.com.

New tools will be added to our site in the coming months that will - among other things -- improve searchability, allow for customized e-mail alerts and alter the way our subscribers interact with sddt.com. New data feeds will change the way subscribers discover new businesses and customers.

Ultimately, the Internet's evolution over the next 10 years will depend on the penetration of new technologies. But for business the evolution will depend on harnessing information to gain a competitive edge.

Prior to joining The Daily Transcript, Gallagher worked for nytimes.com, America Online and managed his own Web consulting business in the early 1990s.

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