Thursday, 31 December 2009

My Decade

“Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need Roads”

Twenty years ago a movie came out that changed the way I looked at the future. This movie was Back to the Future II. Back to the Future II was different than any future movie my adolescent eyes had ever seen. My only comparable film was 2001: A Space Odyssey, but at the ripe age of nine, Stanley Kubrick was not really appealing to my audience. I remember watching the previews and hearing about some of the “future” scenes in the movie. It took place in 2015. At the time, that seemed so distant and I could not even imagine the calendar year starting with a 2 and a 0 instead of a 1and a 9. In the scenes where Marty McFly and Doc Brown travel to the future, we get a brief glimpse of what is awaiting us down the road. It all seemed far-fetched, but you still watched, and you still held that thought in the back of your mind that said, “hmmm, maybe this could happen.”

In 1989 we imagined a future where cars fly, hover boards are the must have toy for kids, NIKE shoes glow and your jacket air-dries and talks to you. There are vintage shops that house relics of a time gone by and there is baseball in Miami. Who could have ever imagined all of this? Robert Zemeckis did. Did it all come true? (Baseball in Miami happened and the Marlins managed to win two World Series titles since Back to the Future made this bold prediction) we don’t know yet, we are only approaching 2010.

I see this vision of the future and think about what has come in the past ten years and look forward to what will be greeting us in the next ten. This image in the New York Times today really struck a cord with me as to how fast things have progressed over the last ten years. Since 2000 the way we communicate and collaborate has changed so fast that it is hard to keep up with it all. Think about this, ten years ago we did not tweet, check facebook or use an iPhone. The web was still lingering in 1.0 and we used lots of bullets on MS PowerPoint and thought flying text and toasters were progressing us forward.

Today, the average person wakes up, checks their phone, sends a few texts, checks e-mail, brushes his or her teeth, sends a tweet about it, updates facebook status (blah Monday morning), sends a reply to previous text, eats cereal, sends a tweet about an article you are reading via an RSS feed on your iPhone, check e-mail again, grab your iPod and update it with your favorite podcasts to listen on the way to work and finally, you are out the door. Think about what just happened…THINK ABOUT IT!!!!

So my question is, “What is next?” Where does all this lead? We can connect to copious amounts of information and communicate faster than ever before. We have even started condensing our language in order to express how we feel in 140 characters or simply to show laughter. Have you ever thought about what it means to write LOL? I once asked someone if they actually laugh when they reply back to a text or an IM conversation with LOL. This person said, “Well when I write LOL that means I really laughed out loud, when I write “haha” that means I’m not really laughing hard, but you received some funny points and when I type “hehe” that is just a giggle.” Yes, this is where we are! This is our future.

When Doc Brown said, “Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads” he was sending a message to all of us here in 2010. We still need roads, however, maybe by 2015 we might not need them. While we might not need roads anymore we still have become reliant on so many tools that govern our daily lives. Imagine your day without your smart phone, e-mail, facebook, ATM card, Google, and your standard Internet connection. Imagine this world, because at one time this was reality and all the terms I just mentioned were not even invented yet. And someday my grandchildren will probably wonder how we lived without teleporters, “Wow Grandpa, you mean you actually had to drive places!? Weird.” Don’t laugh. It will happen.

And here are five things that I predict will happen in the next ten years.

1. Everything will merge and condense further

In a few years, we will all carry one device that can do everything. It will be an iPhone on steroids. One will be able to perform every daily function aside from eating and breathing on this device. It will control the lights in our house; it will start our cars, pay our bills, give us every bit of news, connect us with everyone and house every document we need. It will simply be called “Awesome”.

2. Print media will fade

I still like the smell of an old book and enjoy walking out on Sunday morning to get my newspaper, however, this medium of spreading news and information will soon fade into the past. With the advent of the kindle, the RSS feed, the podcast and the constant stream of news there will be no need for print media and the cost of producing it.

3. Google will prove George Orwell right

Google has grown and expanded faster than any company over the past ten years (save for Apple, so I may be wrong on this one). In the next few years Google will be releasing its own operating system along with its own smart phone. Google will think for us and take care of all our daily connectivity needs. Eventually Apple will revive its 1984 Super Bowl add and this time market it at Google, not IBM.

4. Text to Speech

As we continue to condense our language via twitter and text messaging, our speech and usage of words will continue to denigrate as well. People will communicate less through verbal means and more through cryptic texts and tweets. Eventually language will be obsolete as we condense every word into one character that has yet to be invented.

5. The Ubiquitous Classroom

School will change greatly over the next few years as technology becomes fully integrated and a necessary means for learning and teaching. Teachers will have to demonstrate the knowledge of content along with technology skills in order to get hired. This will go far beyond understanding MS Office Suite and blogging. Skype and the advancement of video conferencing will tear down the classroom walls and allow students to see the world and learn globally and locally. Standardized assessments will be taken out back and shot. Yes! The age of standardized tests will fade along with the failed No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Education will finally differentiate for all, students will learn in forums that suit their learning styles best and they will be assessed in a way that is authentic, rigorous and diverse.