Monday, 8 December 2008

Getting it wrong

It must be tough, sometimes, being a trend forecaster or a futurologist or whatever, especially when annoying people like me dig up your works for a quick re-visit. I always feel a bit sorry for those people who are quoted as saying that the Beatles would never amount to anything or those who turned down the first Harry Potter manuscript.

But sometimes it's fun anyway to consult an ancient tome of trends and to see exactly what they got right or wrong. I think that Nostradamus probably had the right idea to make his predictions so vague and open to interpretation that he couldn't really be held up for criticism. But 20th Century authors had to be a little more precise. I have a book entitled "Megatrends 2000" which was first published in 1988. While much of what the authors predicted was spot-on, I couldn't resist a smile at a piece singing the praises of the "facsimile machine".

"Facsimile machines empower people everywhere to operate at the individual level...Ever wonder why fax machines have become so popular while high-tech electronic mail is such a slow poke? It is the principle of high-tech/high touch described in Megatrends.
Through the technology of the telephone you receive a fax, which you then rip off the machine and proceed to cut up, photocopy, mark up, and otherwise be physically engaged with - high touch. Also, you can write (or draw) something long-hand and send it over the wires. With electronic mail there is no high-touch, just high-tech."

Oh, dear. This all brings back memories of valiantly trying to collect, un-roll and re-order umpteen pages of rolled up shiny paper spread around the grey office carpet like giant cigarettes. And jammed-up shiny paper. And shiny paper that's inconveniently run out during a 50-page document. Didn't toilet paper used to shiny, too? High-touch? No, thanks!

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