Why The Media Revolution Couldn’t Have Been Stopped

We media folk are in deep doodoo these days, thanks to this little thing called “the internet.”

If only we’d seen it coming and acted proactively instead of reactively. We might all be gladly shelling out micropayments for every newspaper from the New York Times to the Podunk Weekly so we could read our favorite journosuperstars (paid as well as pro athletes, of course) on our tablets and mobile phones the size of a fingernail.

Well, says futurist Jamais Cascio says, we did see it coming.

This video from the Knight Ridder Information Lab from 1994 forecasted—in 1994!!—tablet newspapers.

If you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, just watch the first 5 minutes, which are eerily similar to what the iPad turned out to be.

So why, if this was predicted, did this stuff take us by surprise?

Three reasons, says Cascio:

“The forecast future is impossible: what is described is so outside how we understand the world that we can’t see how we get from here to there. Therefore, we can ignore it….The forecast future is unacceptable: what is described, while technically believable, is outside of what we deem “right” for the industry/society, or has elements that don’t fit our knowledge of how the industry/society works. Therefore, we can dismiss it…The forecast future is scary: what is described, while both believable and plausible, would be devastating to us or to our industry/society. Therefore, our only choice is to reject it.”

In fact, the IDL was closed a year after this video was made. Sigh.