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I often read predictions about future technologies from analysis companies like Gartner Group. These studies often strike me as awfully linear in their view on development. I would, therefore, like to know examples of people who have been able to predict the consequences of technologies that have radically changed communication. I use a very broad definition of communication, to include transportation infrastructure, so predictions on the impact of things like a postal service, the train, the automobile, telegraph or a modern thing like Twitter are all interesting.

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An analyst can tell you tomorrow why, what he predicted yesterday, did not happen today. –  Sardathrion Dec 13 '11 at 8:33
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@Sardathrion nice aphorism, reminds me on "I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones." –  Hauser Dec 13 '11 at 20:20

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The "Global Village" (todays metaphor for the world wide web) comes to my mind, predicted by probably most influential communication theorist Marshall McLuhan.

In his book, "The Gutenberg Galaxy" (1962), he basically predicts PC, WorldWideWeb, Wikipedia, Google, social-media, e-commerce everybody uses today in the western world:

“The next medium, whatever it is — it may be the extension of consciousness — will include television as its content, not as its environment, and will transform television into an art form. A computer as a research and communication instrument could enhance retrieval, obsolesce mass library organization, retrieve the individual’s encyclopedic function and flip it into a private line to speedily tailored data of a saleable kind.”

Be aware, there were still in the late 70s entrepeneurs doubting a market for personal computer:

«There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.» (Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC), maker of big business mainframe computers, arguing against the PC in 1977. )

An important position of McLuhan and other theorist like Jacques Ellul is the concept of Technological Determinism. Ellul's book Technological Society (1964) forecasted many developments and problems modern societies face. Really an eye-opener and well written.

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