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Walt Mossberg: I love laughing at stories I read online, or in print, or on television, or wherever I see or read them, where people make these grand predictions. In this digital technology business, you can’t predict more than two years out. And I’m not even sure you’re right about two years if you try to predict. So I’ve studiously stayed away from that in my columns.

You got to remember that we’re sitting here; it’s the year 2007. I don’t know when people will be seeing this. Presumably this will somewhere be in some archive online forever. But it’s the year 2007. The personal computer itself, the mass market personal computer that a normal person who is not a techie or an engineer could actually use, is only 30 years old. That’s it. It’s 30 years old.

The online service that is the predecessor to the Web and consumer e-mail – not e-mail for a bunch of scientists or executives in a company, but wide consumer e-mail – are probably not even 20 years old. Or maybe they’re just about 20 years old.

Instant messaging, same thing.

I wrote the first article in a national newspaper about AOL. It was 1992. I believe they had 200 employees and 200,000 members. That was in 1992. That was 15 years ago. So if you’re 25, 15 years sounds like a long time, but it really is not a long time. And so all of this is just very new.

The Internet, the Worldwide Web is about 10 or 11 years old in terms of really any significant number of people using it. I mean the Internet itself is much older, of course, but it was only used by a small group of scientists and government people for many, many, many years. So we’re just in the first or second inning of this digital revolution, and we don’t really know where it’s going to take us.


Recorded on: Sep 13, 2007




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