Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Road Ahead (Looking Back)

At Davos this week Bill Gates predicted that broadcast television as we know it today will be radically transformed over the next 5 years. It reminded me of something Bill said about technology and predictions...
"People often overestimate what will happen in the next two years and underestimate what will happen in ten."
So said Bill Gates at the beginning of the Afterword for the revised edition of his mid-1990s book "The Road Ahead." It was in part an apology that some of the things he had predicted in his book hadn't happened... yet.

Looking back at the book today is interesting though. Elsewhere in the book he wrote:
"Within twenty years virtually everything I've talked about in this book will be broadly available in developed countries..."
With few exceptions (electronic wallets anyone?) the predictions made by Bill turn out to be too timid 10 years later. So in half of the 20 years everything he predicted has come about.

Does this mean that 5 years is too short or too long? Either way, if I were in broadcast television today, comments like this from Bill Gates would scare the s** out of me. Even 10 years isn't very long to rethink your entire industry.

Berkeley Local News

At the Personal Bee we are experimenting with local news aggregation. Here is a first experiment, for Berkeley California: