I'm a fanatical futurist. Always have been and always will be. I've always found the future to be much more interesting than the present.
Just ask my family. Fifteen years ago, while on a family visit to Disney World, we were discussingand I use the term looselyour park itinerary. The kids wanted to see the Indiana Jones Adventure and Splash Mountain first, of course. I, on the other hand, wanted to see EPCOT Center. My spouse acted as referee.
I especially liked the tour through the future, sponsored by AT&T. As you glided from the past to the present and into the future, you were presented with the miracles of communication we've invented and suggestions of the many to come. As the tour neared its completion, we were shown how families of the future would live, using the new information technologies soon to come. There was Johnny, lying on his bed reading Tom Sawyer on his laptop computer. Mom was in the kitchen, following a new recipe for dinner displayed on her kitchen information appliance.
Fast-forward to the present, and the picture is radically different. The first wave of Internet appliances and e-books have been a flop. They have failed to win the hearts, minds, and pocketbooks of the average consumer.
Does the current refusal of consumers to embrace these technologies seal their doom?
Technology Rising from the Ashes
There is a place in the world for Net appliances and e-books, and they will rise again. The problem is twofold. They were either too expensive or not powerful enough for what they did, or were not specialized enough for a useful task. Basically, Net appliances tried to do too many things; e-books tried to do too little.