Scott Bakula could have summed it up with, “Oh boy…”. Everyday an entire industry leaps from point to point, making great strides towards an uncertain future. We see glimpses of what is to come, but are unsure of what it will really be. Cloudiness marks the path of technology. When we get there, it seems so obvious, but for so long it all seems so terrifying and uncertain.
The familiarity of where we just were lingers as we are thrust into the next step in the evolution of technology. Very few foresee where we will go tomorrow. Those who do, as cliche as it sounds, use it for good or for evil.
And sometimes, we prepare as a community for what will happen. As information sharing and collaborative software development evolves, so does our awareness of technology’s own evoloution. Two — or thousands of — heads are better than one. As communities have been empowered by new tools, they have driven some exciting projects.
Apache, Mozilla, Debian, Gentoo — oh, and Linux itself — are all fine examples of how a collective effort has paved the way for technology before the way was really known. More than anything, they have provided the foundation for the next best thing.
Soon our software will be alive. It will evolve before our very eyes. It will learn how to cope with new viruses, spyware, spam or increasing demand for particular features. It will catalog your mistakes, helping you get what you need with greater speed, clarity and precision.
Gone are the days of the 8-floppy install suite. Welcome are the times of the 4 megabyte installer with one hand firmly grasping the internet. Welcome is the client-side checkbox named, Always know what the hell is going on and let me know.
Web-based application update services will have a growth spurt in the next two years. It started with net installs, Windows Update or Symantec virus definitions. It ends up with a community-based effort to combine a next-generation appplication toolkit, innovative and scalable web update services, and distributed mirror management.
With all the talk about where projects like Mozilla have been, we are once again looking backwards, with fear and uncertainty about where we are going. We generate this unrest because we don’t see instant gratification. We don’t get our king-sized serving of technological fries whenever we want it.
And yes, sometimes these things take a bit of time. It’ll take more than 5 minutes at the Burger King drive-thru to make this all work; much longer. In many cases it takes much longer than the private industry would find to be economically viable. But it will happen, and more importantly, it will happen the right way.
Because we’ve come too far to pack our shit up and go home in defeat. We’ve found ourselves on the brink of changing history. We have an opportunity at hand, as a community, to reclaim control of the presentation of information, and to safeguard it against all possible threats. Think about it.
Never before have we had the chance to make information truly free. Even then, freedom was a lost concept, a mere construct formed by those who were trying to market it. Now think of having complete control over all of your inputs. What a beautiful yet simple concept.
What we’ve failed to realize is that we control our own destiny. As a community we can reach our Atlantis, and we control where we leap to, just as Sam Beckett found out in his last adventure. And to blow up the metaphor, once we collectively figure this out — instead of stopping, we’ll continue to leap with a newfound awareness; uncertain of where we’ll end up, but definitely going there on purpose and with a clue.
What role will you play in the evolution of technology?