Many years ago I went into one of those cheap book shops to have a browse around. You know the type of shop I mean. They sell unknown books or excess copies of popular books whose print-runs were too large. Sometimes you can grab a great read for a very small price and to this day I love walking into such shops.
In the early eighties, I chanced upon a book about the future. Even then the book was already a few years old having been published in 1977. I bought it because i love anything that gives an insight as to what our future might hold. Perhaps this all stems from a childhood watching science fiction films that predicted wonderful gadgets for all in the future.
Seeing the Future With Hindsight
Now that more than thirty years have passed since the book was written, it has becoming even more fascinating and at times, highly amusing. It is in interesting to look back and see what they predicted for life as it is today. I was very young back then and the year 2000 seemed very far off. Not only did that year arrive very quickly the ensuing years appear to have passed by with alarming rapidity!
Because of this perspective, anything they predicted seemed so believable. For instance, they predicted that oil would run out by the late 1990s or early 2000s. This is clearly mistaken, even though we must accept the inevitability that it will run out one day. The reason they were wrong is that they under-estimated just how far down we would be willing to drill for oil and this has extended the life of the motor car, among other things. But I remember clearly back in the 1970s that everyone was predicting an early demise for cars and nothing could be further from the truth. Car ownership has since rocketed and seems to continue unabated.
Could Anyone Really Have Predicted the Mobile Telephone?
There was not one prediction in the book about the widespread use of personal computers (even though that explosion was relatively imminent) nor of the incredible take-up of the mobile phone. The latter happened so quickly I think it took everyone by surprise. At the beginning of the 1990s only loud yuppies carried around mobile telephones but by the end of the decade, just about everyone had one. Who could have predicted this in 1990, much less 1977?
It also predicted the population of the earth would reach 7 billion by the year 2000 (it actually took another 11 years to reach that figure) and that controllable ESP would be developed by 2020! Well that might still be possible but I very much doubt it.
The other thing they got wrong and it is such a shame that they did is that they predicted the advance in technology would result in our leisure time increasing like never before. Well advances in technology have certainly increased our efficiency in both our working and personal lives but we all seem to have less free time than every before.
What could not have been predicted is the increasing demand we would make in our lives which more than compensated for these savings.
Stop Trying to Second Guess the Future and Enjoy the Journey
All this is a very long way of saying that we are all bad at predicting the future. In fact I would go so far as to say that whether or not you prove to be correct is much more to do with chance than skill.
So I for one, will do my best to keep pace with all changes related to the requirements of small businesses as well as for web design and the Internet in general. It is futile to try and predict the future but it is essential to accept all changes that come along and make sure you never get left behind.
We are all on a journey together, none of us knows where it is leading and that is what makes it so exciting!
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