The pioneers of the industrial revolution saw steam powering everything. It was not so much short-sightedness as a lack of ability to see into the future. It was the same at the dawn of electro-mechanical invention, of light bulbs and motors. Faraday and his generation thought the same, looking at their experiments as an end in themselves, whereas in reality they were just scratching the surface - the creation of valves, itself superseded by semi-conductors, illustrates the point. Each generation thinks the same. We cannot think beyond 3 years - it’s a human trait.
This trait carries over into the technology industry, as ‘waves’ of innovation come and create unexpected outcomes. As Sun Microsystems alumnus and industry expert Rob Bamforth (his claim to fame is wearing the ‘Duke1’ Java suit from time to time) once remarked, “This isn’t about convergence, it’s collision.” We sometimes look at consequences and see a destination, whereas in fact we are seeing flags tied to stakes along the road, waypoints on a journey to we know not where. Still we cannot stop ourselves from seeing the latest trends as taking us into a new age. In reality however, the information age started many decades ago and continues to surprise us.
Some organisations — such as Google — instil a spirit of experiment, while others appear out of nowhere, accidental profiteers born in the scalding chalice of innovation. Nobody knows whether another leap is still to come — perhaps from quantum mechanics, or non-linear architectures. What we can say, however, is that the journey is far from over yet.