The Future is a long time coming

My briefcase has been weighed down lately with large paper documents, things such as the manuscript for my new book (one and a half inches thick printed double sided on A4 paper) as well as numerous documents I’m either researching or reviewing. So I just couldn’t resist buying one of the new Sony e-readers. It’s an absolute delight to use: small, slim and svelte, though the software is a little clunky. 

It also made me think about the speed to market, or lack of it, for new technologies. Around the turn of the Century I recall seeing a demonstration of electronic paper at MIT Media Lab. The prototypes seemed fairly well developed. I asked them how long it would take before we saw it in the shops. “About two or three years” they suggested. In fact it’s taken the best part of a decade.

As I’ve often said, you can get a pretty good idea of what’s likely to emerge over the next decade by taking a look at what’s in the research labs now. The future of technology is quite predictable. We’re just never quite sure exactly when these new ideas are going to arrive.