There is a quote you are probably familiar with from William Gibson:
“The future is already here — it's just not very evenly distributed.”
I like it for what it means, but I also like it because it is from our generation. It was spoken when my friends and I were just starting to get the feeling something big was happening and we were seeing it unfold.
Jason Kottke linked to a post today by David Bauer about traveling to the year 2000 and being shocked at the absence of, well, everything.
After Jason quotes a few paragraphs he wrote a response:
I turned 27 in 2000, lived in San Francisco, worked as a web designer, and had been using the web since 1994...and most of the people I knew were similar. We were a bunch of outliers, people with lots of knowledge about and access to technology and the internet. So a lot of what he writes doesn't ring true to me, especially the bit above, and extra especially the newspaper providing "the better news fix".
David makes a lot of fun points in his post about what was missing, and it is fun to read, but I feel the way Jason described in his post.
Connecting with friends, finding a community, tracking weblogs, sharing photos, and reading news all existed in some form for us. Yeah, you had to work at it. Yeah, you had to read man-pages last touched in the 80s. But we were doing it and we knew it was just going to get better.
If I traveled back to the year 2000 my day wouldn’t be that different than it is today. Yes the tools are remarkably better, but there isn’t anything I would feel unable to do. I could still read kottke.org. I could still mail Jason. I could pull him up on IM and chat. I had been on the internet almost a decade by 2000 and was fairly proficient at finding information and connecting with people who were like-minded.
Here is a quote from Chris Dixon that I also like:
What the smartest people do on the weekend is what everyone else will do during the week in ten years
I think that was us back in 2000 and the late 90’s as we wrestled with those man-pages. I think that is what describes people who are dabbling with Arduino and fabrication technologies right now.
Nearly ten years ago I built a crowd funding site called Dropcash because I needed a way to raise money for a fledgling site I had built and managed in my spare time. There were a few of us at the time doing these little communities on the weekends. Matt Haughey ran Metafilter. Joshua Schachter ran Memepool and then Delicious. They weren’t conceived as businesses because there was no business in it. We did them because they were fun to make and people liked to use them.
I don’t exactly consider myself “smart” for doing these things ten years ago. I think of myself as a deeply curious person who likes to think about how to solve problems. I live in constant state of thinking about problems and thinking about solutions. This is fun for me.
What is also fun is being aware of technology as it emerges. Because if you are going to solve problems you should be aware of what other people are doing and what is possible.
For the past week I took a break from Twitter because I was feeling like rather than consuming Twitter it was consuming me. Whenever it was time to put my phone down there were ten more tweets to read. Feeling like I was a bit addicted to the service I decided to set it aside for a week and look into other stuff I’d been missing out on while locked onto my phone.
After spending a week away I had time to think about what I wanted out of Twitter and what I could change to get the most out of it. Rather than ditch it entirely I dropped my following count by almost 300 accounts and I have a few ideas for some lists to make.
The exercise of cutting out Twitter has taught me that Twitter is how I stay aware of that future that is being “unevenly distributed.” I just can’t give that up.