In 2003 science fiction author William Gibson quipped “The future is already here – it is just not evenly distributed.” A quote which has been repeated many, many times to emphasize the idea that, to see the future, you don’t need all that much genius and foresight, but rather access (and sometimes money).
It is a compelling argument – many of us can recite stories of versions of this quote playing out in our own lives. For me it was the VR arcade game I played in the foyer of our local cinema in the early 90s. Or my Apple Newton and later the Palm Pilot, Treo and Nokia Communicator devices I owned.
Unless you are truly an explorer (see my Heretic post on “Explorers, Pioneers and Settlers”), the future has indeed already happened, and all we are doing is catching up. Which is good news, as it means we can all be futurists. We just need to open our eyes and look into the nooks and crannies of our world. Wanted to know what the future of communication looks like as exemplified by the iPhone and Android devices? Buy yourself a General Magic device in 1994 – a good 13 years before Apple introduced the iPhone. It also means that you have to stay curious, avoid the trap of dismissing technology in its gloriously crappy infancy-phase, and hone your ability to operate in “what if” scenarios.
Try it. Watch this AT&T promotional video from 1993 “What is the cloud” and see how many concept you spot which have turned into humongous businesses decades later. I spot at least four… Now – if you would have watched this video in 1993, what would you have made out of it? Put it aside as a curiosity or think about building AMAZON Web Services, Google Maps or Facebook?
The future truly has already happened. Let’s catch up with it!