The year was 2013. I was less than one year into my first job, and Google had just released Google Glass.
I wound up acquiring this device through the “Glass Explorer” program, and it resulted in about two weeks of novelty and looking like a total dork, and the inception of a colorful term.
Fast forward to the year 2023, and Google Glass in all its variations is now discontinued. I still have my device in a drawer somewhere to show to future generations. Maybe it will make the rounds at Antiques Roadshow one day.
Being an early adopter of various emergent technologies over the years has taught me that healthy skepticism is, well, healthy.
Recent rises and falls of cryptocurrencies and exchanges, web3, NFTs, the metaverse hype and more, coupled with a current economic slowdown, are teaching us all a new round of healthy skepticism lessons. And that’s just about things that actually exist – it turns out, some things don’t.
An offshoot of these examples are technologies that were potentially ground-breaking, but just ahead of their time. People forget about Ping, the “social network for music,” from Apple. If you look at Spotify today, it fills much of that niche. Remember Google Wave? Meet Notion, and its competitors like Microsoft Loop. (One could also argue that Google Glass was in this category.) There is a laundry list of these that I won’t go into, but instead will ask the reader to prompt ChatGPT: “What’s a list of software and hardware technologies that are now dead but were ahead of their time?”
Speaking of ChatGPT: this appears to be a game-changing technology that’s making us all forget about the web3 delirium of the last few years. But, it remains to be seen whether it, too, will someday become passé and so built into everything we use that we take it for granted, or whether we’ll become “saturated” by a deluge of AI-generated things that people wind up losing their taste for them. Microsoft is integrating AI assistance into Office now in the ultimate realization of the original intentions of Clippy, but how many people will wind up creating the same-feeling artifacts with these types of tools to the point where we yearn for something a little bit more human again?
Despite that, it is still our job as technologists to take that healthy skepticism forward and perform technical exploration. Recently I’ve been exploring the decentralized identity standards and verifiable credentials technologies that appear to hold a lot of promise, some of which is starting to come to fruition, and while I personally believe these standards will play some part in our collective futures, it’s still early days.
I’ve gotten burned in the past, but no question about it, I am ready to get hurt again.