The Future of Then is Now

It’s 1732 and you live in middle England. One night, while downing some ale at the local tavern, you remark to your friends that the last twelve years have been crazy. Much that you now do on a daily basis – things that seem difficult to imagine living without – had barely been heard of in 1720.

There is a moment of silence. Your friends look at you quizzically. Then, almost simultaneously, they erupt in laughter. Calls of “good one!” are muttered through the chuckles. Large amounts of ale have always tended you to sarcasm.

Every now and then it is worthwhile to reflect on the change that we have witnessed in our lifetimes. If you were born in, say, 1950 every now and then you should stop and say to yourself, “I have seen more technological and social changes come to pass than the entire human race saw between the years 600-1400.” In fact, anyone born since 1900 has seen, or will see, more salient social, technological, and political changes than occured in any previous millenia of human history. Mostly importantly, as opposed to most technological and political changes of the past which, when they rarely came, mostly effected only the highest classes, modern changes greatly effect the quotidian details of even the lowliest human.

Lucky us.

Thus, in this spirit of reflection, it is very interesting to watch a 1994 video of “the first major conference ever devoted exclusively to the subject of commercial opportunities in web publishing:”

The first 30 minutes is definitely the most interesting. Ken McCarthy opens up the presentation by making some comments about the future of the “World Wide Web” and how it will overcome naysayer’s “obstacles” to become a central element of human life. I would say we can give him an “A+” on that one.

The second half is more appealing to tech-savvy viewers who can appreciate the contributions of Marc Andreessen, the co-creator of Netscape, to the ‘net. A graphical browser that interprets a universal protocol into a useable front-end is an idea we take for granted. In the second half Andreesen talks about the creation and future goals of the company that would become Netscape.

Check it out. It is all quite interesting.

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