If you are anything like me every now and then you spend some time wondering about what could be the future disruptive innovations, the new killer application, the next big thing!
In most of those “future-storming” sessions, however, I would just mix together the current development of a certain technology, some possible scenarios and a couple of random thoughts. There was no logic or schematic routine at all.
While I was aware that the overall process had a low efficiency, if at all, it was also difficult to come up with something more structured.
Then one day I found myself looking at an old telegraph equipment. I started thinking that at some point in time the telegraph was at the forefront of the technological development, yet if we compare it with our telephone system one can not help but laugh. Stop it right there, I said. Why am I laughing at the telegraph? The answer to that question was a list of features, including:
- In order to use the telegraph one was forced to learn the Morse code, wasting precious time
- One could not listen to the tone of voice or perceive the mood of the other person
- Delivering a long or complex message was be virtually impossible
- Communication was unidirectional. A person was only able to state facts but not discuss them
It became clear to me why one would consider the telegraph primitive if compared to the telephone. But that is the past, and we are are trying to understand the future and to discover what will come after the telephone right?
Well, what if we repeat the same reasoning for the telephone? Somewhere in the future, when I will already have the next communication device in my hands, I will probably be able to look back at the old telephone and take a good laugh. Guess what, in order to discover what is coming next all I have to do is to figure why I will be laughing so hard at the telephone.
Here is why I think one day I will laugh at the telephone:
- Because it costs money!
- Because it is not integrated with The Network (how Internet will be known)
- Because with the telephone I can not see an hologram of the person I am talking to
OK, figuring that out is not so easy, but this model creates some guidelines and help one to focus his thoughts. You can try this exercise with many different technologies. Why someday you will consider current personal computers obsolete? Why will you be laughing at the idea of going around in gasoline-powered vehicles?
Answer to those questions and you will have a valuable starting point to conceive how technology will evolve over the time.