Thursday, April 07, 2005

Vintage cars and emerging technology

To learn about the future of Emerging Technology I suggest a visit to an old car show. Look at the cars from a 100 years ago. At the turn of the last century the passenger train was the transportation vehicle of choice. The invention of the airplane was still a few years away. Roads were made of dirt and the existing cars were in their early adopter phase, they were crude, uncomfortable and hard to use. Some folks probably thought cars were a fad.

Nothing, it seemed, could challenge the steam train. Trains were comfortable and were getting faster and more efficient. Ribbons of rail seemed to link all points in the continent. Trains were a mature technology and bigger and stronger steam engines were being built and even more transcontinental rail lines were being laid in 1900. It seemed the era of the steam railroad would last forever.

Technologies like weblogs/RSS/podcasting, and the like are now in their early adoption phase, much like the automobiles of the year 1900. How can they threaten the existing paradigm?, some ask. I say all the problems can be over come with thoughtful development. E-mail is broken and with the problems we are seeing with spy-ware and phishing the time may come when we say the same thing about browsers. A web browser is just a file download engine and it is easy for the bad to come with the good! RSS is a trusted source with nobody in the middle and the time may come when RSS feeds may replace both E-mail and browsers. The idea may seem silly now, but remember, there was a time when it seemed the era of the steam railroad would last forever.

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