Thursday, January 29, 2009

New Technology Breakthrough Excites the World...Again

There’s this new technology that folks are talking about. It started on the coast but it’s getting traction all over the world. A few people think it is cool and that it can potentially have a huge impact on how business gets done on the planet.

But there are the naysayers too, of course, describing this new technology as just some children’s game gone awry. They disparage the early adopters, saying they are really just kidding themselves if they think it will ever change anything on a large scale.

Yes, it evolved from earlier technologies but it is a totally new take, really. People are using it in lots of different ways – by one count there are over 100 different approaches. But there are no standards of course. One group is designing it one way based on how they think it should be used, and another makes it look and work in a different way.

And at the end of the day no one really knows if this new tech is going to drive any significant changes – whether it will be adopted by society or by business.

But over time I’d wager – perhaps many years in fact - more and more people will get it and maybe, just maybe, this new technology will actually improve people’s ability to connect and interact and work together and do business with each other.

Many different related businesses will emerge to enhance this technology’s reach and impact. In the end, everyone will probably agree that it really had been a great idea all along and how could they have been so foolish to not have embraced it sooner.

Does this sound familiar? Virtual worlds? The language is 21st century – but not the technology. I am talking about the steam locomotive, introduced in 1829.

My point is: we have seen this movie. These scenarios could easily be applied to virtual worlds obviously, or to the Internet, the telephone, electricity, the automobile, textile manufacturing in the 18th century, et al. The models and cycles have already been established.

We just have to be patient, continue to evangelize and push. Eventually, we’ll see 3D internet and immersive digital environments adopted and adapted to address current and as yet unimagined needs, improving the lives of people all over the planet.

The ability to interact and collaborate, to really feel as if you are in a place together with other people while sitting anywhere is too compelling and seductive a notion. I look forward to seeing these concepts fully embraced and expanded upon, driven by the creativity of the 21st century global community.


Erica Driver said...

Great analogy, Chris. To take it one step further, I'll go beyond the emergence of the steam locomotive to the arrival of large vehicles and the American highway system. My thought is that the big software vendors that offer enterprise collaboration platforms (and the small guys that offer point collaboration tools) could become one of those companies that dug in their heals and said, "We're in the railroad busines," not realizing that they are actually in the transportation business.

Collaboration technology is radically changing, with the emergence of the Immersive Internet. Virtual worlds and campuses, immersive learning environments, and 3D business applications give people who are geographically distributed yet need to work together in real time a way to meet and collaborate that replicates many of the experiences of being together in person.

Unknown said...

Erica - thanks for your input. Yes, this analogy could really be applied to any of the five technology cycles that Carlota Perez describes in her book - from the mechanical loom that ushered in the industrialization of the textile industry to oil and automobiles to the information age where we currently are.