yes, and that is so wonderful!
It has always been this way: When you had the things that were available today, and you looked at what was possible with them, then you knew exactly what would be possible in ten or twenty years’ time! That was the case with computers: If you had a C64 or a ZX Spectrum, then you knew not only what you could do with it, but also what you could do with a computer in ten years’ time, or in twenty years’ time, when computing power, memory and graphics capability would have become cheaper and cheaper (what is always to expect), what will be possible then! Video editing, photorealistic image display, 3D image processing, video telephony, multi-track hard disk sound recording with editing capability – if you were dealing with the things of today, you knew what you would be able to do tomorrow, and it’s always so bad to have to wait for it!
Similarly, like we saw the change from computers being big, expensive machines available only to big enterprises and universities, to the small personal device on your tabletop, to this piece of cake in your pocket with eight cores, we saw what we could achieve with a FANUC at work, which meanwhile changed to little machines that you build together from cheap parts at home at a low price, that allow you to CNC-mill things on your own! At home! With CAD/CAM software that is free and open!
And it still goes on. But we have now finally reached a stage where things are here and will stay. A stage where someone like me, i.e. someone who is always willing to get stuck in and acquire the knowledge, can live among what used to be considered supercomputers and superfactories! At home! It is really a wonderful world that we live in now, if you are a creative person.
And yet, the best things are those that were not foreseen: Two things were not foreseen:
- The WWW, that it is available to everyone thanks to the CERN making it roalty-free and a public domain gift to the world, and that the ARPAnet became a technology available to every household like telephone, called “Internet” today, and even over mobile connections,
- The breadth of available Free and Open Software.
It’s in fact the not foreseen things that are the best.
Just look at “Back to the Future II”: In 1985, no one envisioned the existence of Internet for the future! They thought there would be several fax machines in every room and a wall full of TV channels at home – but no internet!
Today young people can’t even imagine what it was like when there was no WWW and no mobile computer with access to it. If I wanted to know something in 1985, I had to drive 30 km and go to a library! Really! And the telephone was tied up in the hallway, you could not take it with you! And of course you couldn’t take photos with it!
And it still goes on. Even if some things that seem possible today cannot be viewed as joyfully and uncritically as technical developments in the past.