When Technology Stops You in Your Tracks

The first time I ever took part in a video conference was some time during 1994. As part of my business and marketing degree, I was on a work placement at ICL, the British computer hardware and software company that was later acquired by Fujitsu. I clearly remember sitting in a conference room with other people in suits and marvelling at the fact that I could not only talk to but see colleagues in America in real-time (if you discounted the one second pause as the signal traversed the Atlantic and the occasional signal failures which happened in those days). I also recall thinking it was an odd experience and feeling a bit uncomfortable with the whole thing. But, looking back, I took it largely for granted, not considering the fact that video conferencing was an emerging technology that was probably contained within IT companies at the time.

Skip forward to June 2012 and my latest experience of video conferencing could not be any different. On Saturday evening (UK time) I tuned into a fabulous discussion about influencer marketing featuring Neville Hobson, Gini Dietrich, David Armano, Zena Weist, Andrew Grill and Shel Holz. The debate itself covered areas such as the need for education in the area of what an influencer really is and understanding why someone is influential, not just taking the fact they are at face value. It is well worth some of your time, and you can watch the entire thing here.

But beyond the topic, the biggest thing that struck me was how I consumed this content: watching the event live on my mobile via a Google+ Hangout on Air, sat on my sofa with my two-year-old daughter on my lap watching Peppa Pig on TV.

THAT is progress. THAT is how far technology has come. And THAT is a pointer to how far it’ll continue to move forward. I’ve written before about the law of accelerating returns and about how futurist Ray Kurzweil says that, at today’s rate, we’ll experience 20,000 years of progress in the 21st century rather than 100 years. Would I have even dared to believe when I sat in that room at ICL HQ that uninterrupted video conferencing would happen via a mobile less than 20 years later? No way. So what should we be daring to believe for the next 20 years? Any thoughts on what’s to come?