Fantastic Advice

I’ve been interested to see what other people think is important for the future. In a time when so little ahead of us is certain, the best we can do, is try to enjoy today. The future is not guaranteed to arrive, and I find that little or nothing many people do is geared towards seeing it anyway. So the disconnect seems to be we are living a life today, trying to build a better tomorrow, and like trying to stand with one foot in two separate boats, slowly but surely the gap between now and later has widened to a point that makes our balance tenuous. There are some who plow ahead and hope that when they pop up at some later date, they will be where they want to be. As far as I’m concerned I feel many people choose instead to mortgage what’s to come, and instead indulge themselves today.

Here’s the rub… I don’t know what anything is, where anything comes from, or why anything happens. So what am doing trying to make plans? If anything, my transplant taught me that just because you follow conventional wisdom, doesn’t mean you won’t end up having some Raven Simone sized wrench thrown in your plans. This doesn’t mean that plans are useless. It just means specifying your planning only narrows the range of scenarios in which that plan will be of any use. I don’t know if I made it clear enough in my introductory post, but I have no misconception that what I say is right, or even appropriate. But to read some of the words uttered with what I’m sure is a confidence near my own or more, it can be scary to see how far off we can be with our predictions.

In 1943, Thomas Watson the Chairman of IBM said, “I think there is a world market for maybe 5 computers” Considering I myself own 3, its tough to say he knew what he was talking about. But I am certain he wasn’t being brash, or trying to make some sort of grand proclamation. I think he really just thought that. 1943!!!! James Dean was already 12 and World War II was nearly over. At the guy who ran a computer company didn’t think he could sell more than 5 computers!!! Lord Kelvin in 1897 said that “Radio has no future.” Now just think, its 1897…the simple fact you even HAVE a radio is a miracle. So to say it exists but will die out is ridiculous by today’s standard. However the readership of this blog and others like it are unique. We are the first generation to grow up with operating systems, and experience technology evolving before our eyes. Our parents never had to do software updates on their phones. When new technology came out, it was like going from a Game Boy to the app store on an iPhone. Surely they have the same purpose, but to say they are even close to the same device is just absurd.

"I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won't last out the year." - The Editor in Charge of Business Books for Prentice Hall, 1957

This last quote is specifically interesting because 1957 was a year in which many of our parents were already born. I have two friends who work in the debt consolidation field, a multibillion dollar a year industry. Surely data processing is a large part of their jobs and like the quotes before it, this one takes a technology that is designed to make life easier and eschews it as garbage. What must Mr. Ford have felt like with that silly Model-T I wonder? However there are two things I take away from all this.

1) This sort of dismissal still happens today.

2) There is some truth to what these quotes are saying.

You have to understand the question asked of these quotee’s to know what I mean. When Lord Kelvin says radio has no future. He didn’t mean radio was useless. It’s just that in the world he lived in, there wasn’t a use for a radio. There was no 1xtra, no Clear Channel, no FCC, and certainly no Rick Dee’s. So no, radio was a horse without a jockey at that point. Ironically we are once again at a point in which the popular sentiment is that radio is dead, and the advent of satellite broadcast seems to make the more of reality that it was even then when Lord Kelvin said it. I’m sure at the time, all these quotes seemed like perfectly reasonable things to say. The problem is that there is no way to know what the future holds. When Twitter was founded in 2006 I remember thinking it had no practical application and that it was mostly useless. Little did I know it would turn out to be a social phenomenon that transcended everyday life for millions of Americans. So yes I was right, as of now the company still makes only marginal profits. The estimate is that it brings in about $1.6 Million dollars a year. Split between its roughly 80 employees and considering Jimmy Fallon himself has over 2.7 Million followers, the profit ratio is anemic at best.

[Also consider that Kim Kardashian could conceivably make $3.65 million in Ad revenue this year simply by tweeting once a day. Based on her $10,000/tweet deal with]

You can't be Serious!!

However I was also quite wrong. This cultural phenomena has absolutely changed American culture and though it didn’t have a purpose in 2006, in 4 short years it has found a niche, a use, and most of all a following. So yes the radio didn’t have a future. But only in the sense that as things stood, there was no way it could work.

What I wonder now then is what do we devoutly believe today will never happen that actually will? I think it would be easy to try and make a prediction that would surely never come true, so instead what is a prediction that will definitely come to fruition, though now it seems impossible?

1 comment:

  1. Shoutout to Raven Simone in that one! Its 2:54 in the a.m. and Im sitting here doing what only you and I do best...finding something to do. I have to say Im very pleased with my discovery...keep it UP!