There are times when I chase down technological rabbit holes. For example, many years ago I found a Bluetooth headset that allowed you to record calls, not on your phone, but on the headset. At the time, it was really cool, now it is kind of passé. I do, from time to time miss badly on trends. In fact, I suspect my success rate is roughly 30%. Good for baseball, bad for predicting trends.
Frankly I would chase the rabbit down some of the holes again. Not because I am stubborn (ok that in part) but more because while it isn’t realized today, the vision of the technology is coming. It is future tech and will have a huge impact later. Then there is tech that I love, because I use it all the time. But over time my thinking around that tech changes. 3d printing is an example. I believed two/three years ago that everyone would have a 3d printer in their homes by 2020. I don’t think that anymore. Mostly because you can order 3d prints from someone else and let them spend the hour or more adjusting the printer (although, I haven’t had that problem with the Dreamer from Flashforge see my shameless review). I suspect that many people will be 3d printing fans. But I suspect the reality is there will be many different types of printers in people’s homes. Fewer than I would have guessed a couple of years ago. I cannot wait for the first company that opens a chocolate printing store. 3d chocolate prints as a part of a greeting card store.
Like I said, I’ve missed on a few over the years. Mobi-Net was one I missed on badly. The precursor to Wi-Fi. Back in the wired computing days, Mobi-Net was the portable network you could use at work, in the park, in your car and virtually anywhere. It sadly died. As it a couple of other wireless networking products I thought would hit it big. Wi-Fi was easier, cheaper and more effective than the others were, so in the end it became the future.
The museum devoted to swings and misses in Technology would be a very large building. Computer companies that came, and went. There was a time when Apple allowed companies to clone the Macintosh but that passed quickly. The 5.25 inch floppy begat the 3.5-inch floppy which created the market space for Zip drives and Bernoulli drives. Have you seen anyone using either of those devices in the past few years? I do still have a USB 3.5-inch floppy drive, and I have a zip drive but I haven’t connected them in more than two years.
Today’s post is more of a cautionary tale. While I am certainly one of the people that future proofs the future by guess what is big next, I am not the only one. There are many people whose livelihood is guessing what will be big tomorrow, in technology. They have similar success rates as I do. So, while they predict something, it doesn’t mean that is the absolute path. It just means they have looked at the market, at the technology and have decided this is possible.
So, when you read about tomorrow, understand it is a picture of what is possible. It is not a declaration of the future, carried back to now by a time traveling technologist. Who only travels back in time to make the world a better place. Oh, yeah and to sit in a coffee shop with Albert Einstein and ask him how he was able to see things no one ever had before. Or to have coffee with Marx. Groucho, not Karl for that lunch by the way.
Like any profession where it is in part gut feel or educated guess (sports are another like that) you have points of failure. Those points of failure denote the lines you draw. They are the edges of what you clearly see. So, when a technologist guesses wrong, there is no intent, no discerption. It is simply that they were, from the vantage point of their line of sight, wrong. It happens. Frankly it happens a lot more than any of us that predict tomorrow would care to admit. As I said earlier, I am truly right on roughly 30% of my overall predictions. A great average in major league baseball. Not so much if you are an NFL quarterback!
That reality is why I keep saying the information age lies over the horizon. It isn’t here yet. There is Too Much Information not at your fingertips.