It’s odd how time beats things into submission and then also how soup gets cold so fast. And when I say “time” I mean those geeky and mildly disturbed types that actually live on cold soup while they create new apps and innovations from their basement. Yeah, and it’s even more odd to see what some people thought years ago about the future those guys bring about and then how it actually turned out.
How you live and work now probably doesn’t even phase you. Talking with people instantly. hello? That is insane. I bet your ‘musicbox’ doesn’t have any wires and you can send your ‘Polaroids’ instantly through space. suuuuure.
I imagine there will always be two opinions about the futuristic future (R.I.P. Arthur C. Clark.) One pessimistic, one optimistic. I’ll take whichever one sounds cooler, laugh at the other and see what happens. However, if you look at two version from the years gone by, it’s kinda obvious which route technology took.
A Pessimistic Look
In 1995, Clifford Stoll, wrote and article for Newsweek called The Internet? Bah! that takes a less than kind look at what it will be.
Visionaries see a future of telecommuting workers, interactive libraries and multimedia classrooms. They speak of electronic town meetings and virtual communities. Commerce and business will shift from offices and malls to networks and modems. And the freedom of digital networks will make government more democratic.
Baloney. Do our computer pundits lack all common sense? The truth in no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works.
It’s almost laughable isn’t it? It’s hard to figure out how someone could be further off-base, especially if you read the rest of the article or some of the quotes from his book. Albeit, if it affects your business, I think most would cast doubt to the validity of much changing how you do things now, especially in the span of 10 years.
A Positive Look
On the opposite spectrum, there’s James R. Berry, who in 1968 wrote about what the future would be like this very year, 2008.
The single most important item in 2008 households is the computer. These electronic brains govern everything from meal preparation and waking up the household to assembling shopping lists and keeping track of the bank balance.
Computers also handle travel reservations, relay telephone messages, keep track of birthdays and anniversaries, compute taxes and even figure the monthly bills for electricity, water, telephone and other utilities.
Quite a different perspective. He didn’t get everything right, but he also didn’t doubt the possibilities. If you take all the manual things you do now and completely automate them, how does that change things in the future? That list can be huge and with barriers to communication being demolished daily, there’s room for actions to make ideas to happen faster.
The reality of it is changing how we interact with others and information. It’s accessible. And where there’s more accessible items the less accessible items will fall by the wayside.
The American newspaper has been around for approximately three hundred years… Taking its place, of course, is the Internet, which is about to pass newspapers as a source of political news for American readers.
Source: Out of Print the NewYorker
Not to mention Social Networks:
Socnets are transforming the Internet from a network of pages and machines to a network of people.
Source: Information Week
It all seems like a mish-mash of different things happening at times, doesn’t it? But when you look at it from 40 years ago and 10 years ago, it’s just plain cool that this stuff is happening and we can all be involved in it.