RE: do leading indicators matter?
Some knew markup mattered. They knew it because it solved certain problems that they had observed most computing systems shared. Tim says military support isn't a reliable predictor. Everything I've seen says it is but not a very specific one. It's just a driver. Unless DARPA had done it's job, most of us wouldn't have the ones we have today. DARPA sets about trying to achieve certain aims based on problems they foresee and they spread money about like manure in a lot of little and large niches to drive technology to solve those problems. Some patches thrive quickly, then go to seed and cause other patches to start. Others go to weed and that is the end of that. But because they have a set of problems that conceptually bounds what they fertilize, they eventually get a turf. By 1989/90, a fairly accurate account of what the web would be was available in some circles. The combination of technologies wasn't hard to guess given the problem set. In other words, some groups had very definite problems to be solved and given a survey of the commercial and lab technologies, it wasn't difficult to see what would be the shape of the thing, the shape of most of its internal parts, and so on. One can smugly ask why it wasn't done by those groups. That's simple: no money in it. If money is the object, a LOT of innovative things won't get done and the R&D budgets can't fill all the gaps from lab to store shelf. The dot.con mania paid for a lot of experiments. Now the John Perry Barlows of the world have to come up with yet another myth to keep their views alive and their influence intact. Maybe that is what all such indicators are. Given a specific tech and a specific set of problems, prediction is a lot easier. Ask what the weather will be next week, and that's a lot harder question. In 1905, my guess is that very few people had many problems that this particular paper had practical applications to. Yet later those such as Szilard who were thinking through implications realized that given quantam physics, certain implications were inevitable, and it scared him witless. Oddly, H.G. Wells hit it right on the nose. Why? He looked at human technical progress and human culture and humanity as a single piece. Like Szilard, the implications terrified him. To understand why a technology will emerge isn't that hard. When it will emerge can be harder but if you really need it to emerge, fertilizer helps. I view a lot of these predictor papers somewhat like fertilizer. len -----Original Message----- From: Jonathan Robie [mailto:jonathan.robie@s...] At 09:48 PM 3/19/2002 +0000, Bill de hOra wrote: >Maybe there are no clear reasons why certain technologies matter. >Credit to Tim Bray for pointing out that some predictors don't seem >to matter, but I don't think he goes anywhere far enough. I suspect >that the adoption of technology largely follows a series of frozen >accidents: you might as well be predicting earthquakes as the next >big thing. It's fun to try to figure out what successes have in common, and I think it can even be instructive. I learned a lot from The Mythical Man Month, for instance. But breakthrough technologies tend to be a bit of a surprise, and hard to evaluate at first. If they were easy to evaluate, they wouldn't be revolutionary. It's 1905. Someone gives you the following paper to read: http://www.fourmilab.ch/etexts/einstein/specrel/www/ Does this paper matter? Will people still be talking about it in 10 years? What are the indications? Jonathan ----------------------------------------------------------------- The xml-dev list is sponsored by XML.org <http://www.xml.org>, an initiative of OASIS <http://www.oasis-open.org> The list archives are at http://lists.xml.org/archives/xml-dev/ To subscribe or unsubscribe from this list use the subscription manager: <http://lists.xml.org/ob/adm.pl>
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