"COMPUTER POWER TO THE PEOPLE! DOWN WITH CYBERCRUD!" - Theodor Nelson
Friday, August 26, 2005
The Future and The Ordinary
Suppose you are absolutely certain that a technology that you know about will succeed. How long will it take to have a major impact? Warning: Technologies take a surprisingly long time to become accepted.
The above quote is taken from Donald Norman's "Defending Human Attributes in the Age of the Machine". He gives insight in why new technology takes so long to adopt and even gives some examples of outmoded technology that we still use (the "qwerty" keyboard). Then, he explains several examples of modern technology and how long it took them to be accepted. The numbers are staggering. The television took seventy years from inception to acceptance! He gives a lot more examples and it's quite the read.
Where am I going with this? I think this applies to computer languages and frameworks. The rest of the industry keeps edging toward Smalltalk and Lisp. The road to Smalltalk was started with C++ (by mimicing OO features) gaining acceptance. Later, it was java (VM, garbage collection) and now, python and ruby (late-binding, dynamic typing, closures, etc). Each jump has taken about ten plus years each. What will the next jump be? I'm hoping it will be toward the image because it's the only piece missing. But, we still have about ten years before critical mass. Are you patient? I think I can be.
Each technology jump toward Smalltalk should be celebrated. I tend to be disappointed with each jump because it's not far enough, but I should be happy. Everyone is one step closer to feeling the love. Oh, I can wait ten years for love. Can't you? Now, the question is how long will it be before prototype languages are accepted? I'm betting at least twenty years from now. Well, that's a lot of time to be ahead of the curve and kicking everyone's butt don't you think?