Forecasting the Future

This little video went viral recently: a one-year-old who apparently thinks that a print magazine is no more than a broken iPad.


I don’t have a tablet myself (at least not yet), but I can see why the toddler might be confused. These days, we’re assimilating new technologies at lightning fast rates, and expect even cutting-edge features to become universal almost overnight.

Right now my own feature-envy is centered on the escape key: Facebook‘s use of escape to close images being viewed is so ingenious to me that I keep hitting escape on other sites, too, assuming that it works everywhere I want it to. If only!

As for the iPad toddler, is she a harbinger of our digital-dominated future, or of the present that’s already here? Or is she merely a toddler who likes objects that respond to her touch?

I can’t help but wonder what new technologies my own infant daughter will experience, assimilate, and eventually take for granted during her lifetime. She’s just a few months younger than the iPad toddler, but will that age-difference affect their relative experiences? Perhaps.

Fortunately, you don’t have to predict the future of technology to work in digital humanities. You just have to recognize opportunity when it knocks. Heck, it’s just a week old, but I can already imagine public history uses for digital concierges like Siri (available on the new iPhone 4S).