I’m perusing the Forrester Research website, taking in Provocative Predictions based on Rigorous Research. As usual, it’s exciting, but I’ve always been an annoying student. The more I read, the more there is to question, and sometimes it’s only a matter of minutes (this time I made it past 20) before I hit critical mass, and have to battle the urge to bolt. Usually, that means: Tackle something productive, like return to the project I was taking a break from. That is, “Stop watching, and start making.” In the case of one particular bit of information, however, I experienced the intense desire to go find some sci-fi pulp.

Well, yes, it’s a lovely way to escape the realities of an accelerating world. But look: Simon Yates, in a summary for a lengthy and expensive forecast on Worldwide PC Adoption, says that not only will the number of consumer users double from one billion to two billion within seven years, but this vast population is “a market that no one really understands yet” (italics are mine).

I love statements like that, partly because the author is no longer making authoritative proclamations that an adult reader must continually evaluate as little more than conjecture. Yates has now joined me in saying, “I don’t know,” and, “What if…?” and, “I wonder…?”

Hence, the urge to hit the used book store to root out a forgotten paperback with an intriguing cover.

The impact of another billion computer users—readers, participators, contributors, and a questionable proportion of buyers—will be terrifically complex. There will be obvious changes, and subtle changes. Beneath and within those, there will be layers and layers of unimaginable change. The more we look, the more we’ll find. And because reality will likely be unexpectedly, outrageously different, the best prophets may be those who are unfettered by Rigorous Research. It may take more than one, with Book A exploring the essence of western cultures, Book B upending possibilities about overlooked cultures and Book C tromping across the collective human experience. Somewhere, in some yellowed and mildewy book about future battles and future love, I’m betting somebody’s musings have already become hindsight.

And you know what they say about hindsight.


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