As you look ahead, you will find that we are at a time of very rapid innovation. Perhaps, it has always been that way and every generation feels the same! But I definitely dont think that the pace was so rapid when I was growing up. We got news once or twice a day via the newspapers or the single (government-owned) TV and radio channel that we had. It took a lot of time to get a phone line. And when we did talk outside of the local area, it was incredibly expensive. Most long-distance communication ended up being by hand-written letters. When we took photos, we got them printed and put in an album. When we needed to look up information or do research, we went to the library. My first experience of a computer was when I was 15 years old shortly after the personal version was launched.
Contrast this with the world today. News flows continuously on the Internet and dozens of TV channels. Alerts are delivered on mobiles. Phones are available on-demand, and talk is cheap as it is getting digitized and sent over the Internet. Most communication today is via email, IM or SMS. I dont even remember writing a letter in my own handwriting for a long time! Photos are taken with digital cameras or the mobile phones and can be immediately available via online photo albums. A lot of the worlds information is now just a few clicks away and accessible via search engines. The computer will be part of your life from very early on as you will probably watch videos and listen to music on it. And this is all happening today!
Now, extrapolate to the future. You can already start thinking how life will be different. Every generation brings with it learnings from the past. Managing multiple media, relationships and transactions simultaneously will probably come completely naturally to you. Even so, I can barely imagine how life will be when you will be 20 in the year 2025. While some things like the length of the day will continue to always be the same, what you do in the day and how you do those things will probably be quite different. All said and done, you are a product of a different era. I hope your mother and I can recognise that.
What you and every human has is the ability to learn. I hope you will make good use of that ability. There is an incredible foundation that now exists for you to build upon. We have the worlds information accessible for you to study perhaps, there is too much of it. Whats more, you have the daily production of content by millions of people in the form of blogs on virtually every topic in the world. You have devices and networks capable of providing you access to all of that instantaneously.
It is a fascinating world youve been born in. It is infinitely more complex than the world I was born in and grew up in. I am sure you will be able to cut through this maze of activity and create your own space. As you grow up, you will use your senses to build your own mental models of the world around you. To help you understand whats happening, I thought Id start by putting together some of the big ideas that we are seeing around us today. As you read these essays (and I hope to write one every few years), you will get a sense of where we are coming from and how an older generation views the future.
Tomorrow: My World
TECH TALK Letter to a 2005 Baby+T