gathering of developers

10 turn-of-the-century predictions, and 10 lessons learned

As we all attempt to predict the future, we probably should remember that we generally do not predict the future very well.

I received a reminder of this last month.

I spent a long weekend at my childhood home and, amidst catching up with friends and family, was also asked to do some overdue cleaning. As a child I saved virtually every magazine I received, but now those magazines were simply taking up space in my parents’ basement. My parents kindly encouraged me to examine the magazines and throw out which ones I no longer wanted.

(By “kindly encouraged”, I mean that my parents basically said, “Throw out the magazines, or we’ll throw ’em out for you.”)

As I combed through the magazines, most of which went straight to the trash, I noticed a stray section of an oldĀ Entertainment Weekly that, for some reason, I had ripped out of the magazine and saved separately. The section was titled “EWinternet: 10 for 2000” and consisted of a Top Ten list of “companies and visionaries leading the electronic charge” at the turn of the millennium.

I was intrigued. I felt as if I had just unearthed a time capsule.

But, like most time capsules, this one wound up being painfully outdated.

As I read this list, I remembered the various 21st-century predictions made about the world of journalism. Some have come true, but some have become laughable — massive misjudgments about a landscape that constantly evolves.