The Future Hasn’t Arrived Yet

Posted on Oct 29, 2005

I came across an old blog post of mine that caused a double-take. The post, titled “One-Screen Access to Your Life” isn’t about Netvibes or another Web 2.0 application, but cites a story at the New York Times from November 2002.

Yale computer scientist David Gelernter is glad that the Microsoft trial is behind us, because “operating systems are lapsing into senile irrelevance,” and we need to move on to the future. And what will the future be all about? “Every piece of digital information you own or share will appear (in the near future) in one universal structure”–one to which you’ll have access from any Net-connected computer anywhere. “I have time for only one screen in my life,” says Gelernter. “That screen had better give me access to everything, everywhere.” The universal structure, dubbed Scopeware, will be a narrative, 3D stream of electronic documents flowing through time.” The future (where you store your calendar, reminders, plans) flows into the present (where you keep material you’re working on right now) and on into the past (where every e-mail message and draft, digital photo, application, virtual Rolodex card, video and audio clip and Web bookmark is stored, in addition to all those calendar notes and reminders that used to be part of the future and have since flowed into the past to be archived forever).”

Wow, every piece of my digital information forever. Clearly, the future is not yet here. We have a lot of work to do to reach the digital brain (and the semantic web) that we can already envision.