Google chief: Vast changes to Web loom

Eric Schmidt says company wants to 'design the future'

ORLANDO -- A Web where Chinese is the dominant language and connections are so fast that distinctions between audio, video and text are blurred is perhaps just five years away, the head of Google said Wednesday.

Eric Schmidt, chairman and CEO of the Internet giant, spoke to about 5,000 chief information officers and information technology executives at a technology conference.

"All of these distinctions will completely go away," he said. "We're not trying to design the future. We're trying to invent it along the way. ... This is about inventing the future, and we score ourselves based on whether our customers like it."

Teens today consume information much differently on the Web and are able to juggle various forms of information seamlessly, he said. Streams of information will increase as connections grow faster, and if Web surfers feel as though they are drowning in information, it is because a fundamental shift is occurring to user-generated content. The success of such sites as Facebook and Twitter are examples of this shift, Schmidt said.

"You will tend to listen to other people," he said.

The problem is how to organize all the information, he said. It is the fundamental problem facing Google, a company that offers many products but was built on a Web search engine that trolls for information, gathers it and ranks it for users. Schmidt asked rhetorically how, for instance, Google might be able to rank a user's individual tweets.

Schmidt spoke at the Gartner Symposium/Itxpo at the Walt Disney World Dolphin and Swan Hotel. The four-day conference ends today.