Last week I mentioned that we all have roughly four thousand weeks at our disposal
to live a happy life and make the world a better place. It’s funny to me to think that I’m halfway through this journey as my newborn son is right at the beginning.
He’s going to grow in a world that is radically different from the one I joined when I was born back in 1983; it makes me feel soooo old ;-)
By the time he’s 20 (2041!), the world will surely have changed a lot
, as the rate of innovation continues to accelerate
. That thought is mesmerizing!
I grew in a world where the Internet was brand new. Most families I knew did not have access to it. Adults didn’t know much and most didn’t care at all. When I was around 10, I remember telling my mom: “The Internet is going to change everything”. My mother laughed; she didn’t get it. Truth is that the world was already changing, but it was far from obvious to many. And I guess the same is true nowadays. The world changes constantly, often without us paying attention.
A few years back, desktop applications were much more important than they are today. The Web platform has evolved so much in the last years that we’re now able to build replacements for most desktop applications. We use the Web and Web applications a whole lot more than desktop applications, and most of those are slowly fading away, either replaced by native functionality or by SaaS. I remember keeping an entire collection of software on my NAS; tools for communications, drivers, utilities, etc. Most of those are bogus now.
We used to own our music. I grew with cassette tapes
and spent countless hours recording songs on the radio. Later I copied CDs and DVDs. It took hours and hours to burn those. Nero was king at the time (those who used it will get this :p). My car was packed with music CDs, and my NAS was full of MP3 and FLAC albums (ah the good old days :p). I spent entire nights filling the metadata so that everything would be perfect. I listened to far-away radio stations on SHOUTcast and the like. And now we have tools like Shazam, we have connected cars with Internet access, we can stream music, etc.
When I was young, I didn’t have much choice about what content to consume. We put the TV on, and the only choice was what was broadcasting at that time. When I was ~14, I realized that the Internet would give me choice. And I stopped watching TV forever. I chose what I wanted to watch, and what I wanted to discover. For some time, we rented DVD movies, but then downloaded movie rips, and exchanged hard drives full of movies and music with our friends. We used to exchange a ton more files, used FTP servers to host those and share data (or even DCC, newsgroups, and the like for those who remember). During LAN parties we would bring our 22" monitors along with our maxi towers to play Half-Life and Counter-Strike for a weekend. The network would saturate because of all the ongoing file transfers. Then the age of peer-to-peer came, and the world started exchanging terabytes of information instead. Then, as technologies evolved and Internet bandwidth increased across the globe, our usage patterns evolved. What would before take an hour to download now takes mere seconds. Game developers stopped compressing assets and videogames now use 100GB of disk space. It’s completely crazy.
As everything accelerated, streaming services appeared one after another and slowly replaced our past solutions. Gone are the days where we needed to search for or fix movie subtitles. Now we get Spotify, Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and we have access to countless hours of content.
We used to chat on IRC, then we used tools like ICQ, MSN, Skype, and now we drown in communication channels. We have Messenger, Whatsapp, Telegram, Discord, Slack, Teams, Hangouts, Zoom, and a dozen more that we need to use in parallel to discuss with friends, family, coworkers, and communities that we are a part of. Information overload has been a real challenge for a while, and now we also have a communication channel overload.
We now have GPS, WiFi, 4G/5G, Bluetooth, contactless payments, cryptocurrencies, NFTs, RFIDs, drones, smart contracts, and so many other cool technologies at our disposal. The Internet is everywhere, deeply integrated with many things in our lives. We live in a world that is always getting more connected.
And I could go on and on. Innovation changes the world faster than ever. Needless to say, the World Wide Web really has changed everything.
For all of us. There are now countless opportunities for us to learn, share, and grow. Education has never been as accessible, and it keeps getting better. The tools at our disposal are also getting more powerful. I’m in awe when I think about the evolution of tools like Photoshop
. And now there’s a new revolution ongoing: tools for thought are on the rise
! I have high hopes for the future of education.
This reminds me of an interesting play of words in French:
A l’école on nous apprend le passé simple mais jamais le futur compliqué, ce qui serait un joli présent pour affronter tout ce qui est imparfait. Et tout ça alors que c'est un besoin impératif! En conclusion: Oublie ton passé, qu’il soit simple ou composé, et participe à ton présent pour que ton futur soit plus-que-parfait.