I was seven years old when this fascinating 1982 New York Times article published, reporting on a study which predicts the internet:
A report commissioned by the National Science Foundation and made public today speculates that by the end of this century electronic information technology will have transformed American home, business, manufacturing, school, family and political life.
The report suggests that one-way and two-way home information systems, called teletext and videotex, will penetrate deeply into daily life, with an effect on society as profound as those of the automobile and commercial television earlier in this century.
It described the work-at-home career I have almost 30 years later pretty specifically:
The home will double as a place of employment, with men and women conducting much of their work at the computer terminal. This will affect both the architecture and location of the home. […] A new profession of information ”brokers” and ”managers” will emerge, serving as ”gatekeepers,” monitoring politicians and corporations and selectively releasing information to interested parties.
The article also described my future social life and peer group selection via social media:
There will be a shift away from conventional workplace and school socialization. Friends, peer groups and alliances will be determined electronically, creating classes of people based on interests and skills rather than age and social class.
Great read. I for one plan to take these type of predictions a lot more seriously. (via)
Good old Grey Lady… always right on top of the trends!
I started a business based on this concept (work is what you do, not where you go) about 25 years ago… um… or so. It was fun, it was the right idea but not the right time.
I managed to sell out just as the Internet (the WEB, really) came along and steamrollered the whole thing. Now, it just might be the right time, and I do hope it’s happening.
“It” was a home business based on combining other home businesses. My concept was doomed… for one thing it involved lawyers, and hooking them together to share resources through the magic of modems. The technology just zoomed past and ripped the doors off. Part of it was not dependent on technology, though, and I really think it’s time has come.
The most recent buzzword I can remember for it is awful: Virtual Company. It’s really just a bunch of people doing different parts of a bigger job, and connected by whatever technology will connect them. It works, and it does all of the great stuff the NYT wrote of and much more. It avoids most of the bad part of business (employees, taxes, workers comp, parking… that stuff) and just gets the job done. It’s light on it’s feet, and if you don’t make the bad play I made, (underestimating what technology was going to do) it can adapt to anything.
You are doing it, looks like. My timing was off, and I’m just too damn tired to start all of that up again… but I do enjoy watching people like you doing it.
In another ten or twenty years we will wonder how people could stand actually “going” to work, having one of those “job” things, and just doing the same thing forever.
I can hardly wait.
Amazingly prescient article, Gina. The technology angle was off, but virtually all of the societal effects were nailed. How did you discover the article?
BTW, I *wasn’t* seven when this article was first published, but that’s neither here nor there…