Walt Mossberg is the author and creator of the weekly Personal Technology column in The Wall Street Journal, which has appeared every Thursday since 1991. With Kara Swisher, he currently co-produces and co-hosts D: All Things Digital, a major high-tech conference with interviewees such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and many other leading players in the tech and media industries. The gathering is considered one of the leading conferences focused on the convergence of tech and media industries. In addition to Personal Technology, Mr. Mossberg also writes the Mossberg's Mailbox column in the Journal and edits the Mossberg Solution column, which is authored by his colleague Katherine Boehret. On television, Mr. Mossberg is a regular technology commentator for the CNBC network, where he appears every Thursday on the mid-day Power Lunch program. He is also a regular contributor to Dow Jones Video on the Web.
In a major 2004 profile of Mr. Mossberg, entitled "The Kingmaker," Wired Magazine declared: "Few reviewers have held so much power to shape an industry's successes and failures." Mr. Mossberg was awarded the 1999 Loeb award for Commentary, the only technology writer to be so honored. In May of 2001, he received an honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Rhode Island. In May of 2002, he was inducted into the ranks of the Business News Luminaries, the hall of fame for business journalists. That same year, he won the World Technology Award for Media and Journalism.
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