The acceleration of life

None of us would have predicted on the first day of the Internet that we'd arrive where we are now. No one would have predicted that this many people would have connected, as fast as they did. No one would have imagined the range of social and cultural functions that have emerged. No one would have imagined how central it is to the operation of every key force in our society. On the first day, no one would have imagined that we would get to this point. From this point, it is impossible to imagine where we are going to go.

What we have seen is that the Internet facilitates rapid cultural evolution, dramatic change in a relatively short period of time, widespread dispersion of patterns, at a speed that would have previously been unimaginable. That means that prediction becomes that much harder.
One of the things that interests me is that if you look at science fiction, the first sci-fi novels that came out at the beginning of the 20th century had to imagine thousands of years into the future in order to imagine a future different enough to be interesting. Contemporary science fiction has to only move out five to ten years to be as dramatic. The time frame of the future gets narrower and narrower.

Our ability to look forward is that much harder because of the acceleration of change that has taken place throughout the 20th century, but particularly in the last couple of decades as digital technology has changed the speed and scale of human communication.

— Excerpted from an interview with David M. Ewalt on Sept. 22, 2005.

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