Here’s the intuition:
- New technologies – including ideas, techniques and ways of thinking, as well as physical tools – very often come from the creative recombination* of old technologies
- There are more people in the world than ever before, and more of these people – an increasingly diverse set of people – have access to more technologies than ever before
- These same people are networked to more people than ever before. Each person who joins the network increases the number of potential connections – and the value of the network – exponentially.
- So we have more ideas mixing in a wider range of minds and environments than ever before, and far more potential for good ideas to be realised and to spread…
- … and as of about now, only about half of the world’s population is online.
- It takes longer than we think – perhaps a generation – for new technologies to really embed and make a noticeable difference.
- Conclusion: it might feel like we’re on the far side of the digital revolution – that computers have happened, the internet has happened, the world has changed – but it’s only just beginning.
We haven’t seen anything yet.
*: I first noticed this phrase in Tim O’Reilly‘s WTF: What’s the Future? but the idea runs through Walter Isaacson‘s The Innovators and Kevin Kelly‘s What Technology Wants to name a few. See WtF: Technology and You for more references.