A Cracked Crystal Ball (the Prediction Failures Chronicles)

There is no industry like the technology industry for peddling ridiculous predictions, aside from climate activism. They make political pontificators and end-times forecasters look sane by comparison. It seems that every other week some tech analyst is prediction yet another golden age from the comfort of his or her armchair. This week, it’s TechCrunch with the prediction of the Internet vanishing point.

Those who play the prediction game know that rule #1 is an avoidance of responsibility. You are never responsible when your wild-flying claims are proven incorrect; no-one will hold you accountable for being wrong. Besides, you will have made 200 more predictions by that time, so not only do you not remember any particular prediction, who can keep up with all the flatuations emanating from you crystal ball? So don’t expect any mea culpas from Tom Goodwin. Predictors do not learn from their mistakes. They’re not supposed to learn – just create more visions of the world of tomorrow that the tech companies gladly advertise for. It’s a racket. That’s why I feel no restraint in puncturing this pinata. 🙂

“Technologies only become truly integrated into society when they move from requiring forethought to becoming an afterthought.”

This is only the first paragraph, and we’re off to the idiot races! Uhm, no Tom. You miss the whole wide middle, where the technology is simply used without thinking much at all. Consider the telephone, the alarm clock, the microwave, etc. There is no afterthought going on. Alternately, you could argue that any technology requires forethought. When you go to pick up the cell phone, even if it’s to say, “Hey Siri,” you have to think ahead of time what you’re going to do. You have to think how long you want to fry the hot dogs before you push buttons on the microwave. All tools require forethought. Either way, the statement is vacuous.

“What was once a deep system to search has slowly evolved into a system that pulls personalized, ambient information to a single layer we skim.”

Because nobody searches for anything on the internet anymore, right? LOL. If people don’t know something when a group is out for dinner, what happens? “Let me Google that.” or “Let me look that up.” Uhm, and how many millions of requests does DuckDuckGo get every day, not to mention Google, Yahoo, and the like? These are conscious requests by people actively seeking information. That facet of human behavior – seeking out and learning new information – always generates an action, and it will not be going away. The nature of humanity is to not be completely pleased and passive in any surrounding; people are always asking, questioning, researching, and learning. These cannot be passive tasks. So as long as people exist, purposeful requests for information (web searching by hook or by crook) will occur.

We’ve moved from surfing and searching to glancing. This will be the experience of the next web, where information is aggregated propelled by API’s and deep linking — and it’s going to

The point just above applies. Note the amazing lack of concern for even finishing his own thoughts here. It’s going to do what, exactly?

Broadly speaking we’ve had three eras of the web defined by three distinct behaviors.

The first era of the consumer internet

Notice how he moves from “three eras of the web” to “consumer internet”. The former subsumes the latter, but it is not the latter. Consider the web before businesses discovered it. What would you call that? Certainly not the era of portals, which is his first era of the web. The guy can’t even be bothered to search for history on the topic. (Irony alert.) Maybe his customized feed just didn’t inform him of everything he needed to know?

and it’s greater still, but ask 12-year-olds and they can’t tell you, because, for them, there is no concept of online.

From Wifi in transatlantic aircraft, to 5G and Wi-Max, to Africa going online via smartphones, to ever smaller, cheaper, more abundant connected sensors, we’re entering a world where it seems literally everything is connected to everything…

I’m not sure you should measure reality by what 12-year olds think of it. In fact, I’m pretty sure that doing so will simply distort your findings into utter incomprehensibility. In any case, the reality, not the seeming reality, is that not everything is online.

You watched TV on a TV, from a TV company paid for in part by TV ads, consumed a full range of news in a Newspaper, listened to the radio on a radio from a radio transmitter with radio ads.

Now everything has risen and is converging on the Internet.

I feel like I want to stab my eyeballs. TVs have become bigger and flatter, not disappeared. Radio still exists. Only newspapers have really taken a dive, and there were many reasons for that. Everything has risen?

And the conclusion? You guessed it – Star Trek. Wow, how original. You mean that you think the internet will be always-on, nearly everywhere? No. You don’t say. Did you come up with this all by yourself?

This is not an article. It is gobbledygook written by someone who has a tenuous grasp on the present, and no clue about human behavior. Having failed to grasp first principles, he then gesticulates wildly and grows increasingly illogical as he proceeds. Ideas don’t connect to one another; other ideas are left dangling; logic has fled the scene.

I will make my own prediction: the days of the internet news company that cannot afford to hire good writers and doesn’t bother with editors — you know, outfits like TechCrunch: their days are short.

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