Image from Mark Higgison
I was digging through some files the other day and found this document from 1997. It gathers a set of quotes from issues of Wired magazine in its first five years. I don’t recall why I created this (or even if I did compile all of them), but I suspect it was for our fifth anniversary issue. I don’t think we ever ran any of it. Reading it now it is clear that all predictions of the future are really just predictions of the present. If I were compiling this list today instead of in 1998, I would have selected much different insights.
Here is the 1998 document in full:
We as a culture are deeply, hopelessly, insanely in love with gadgetry. And you can’t fight love and win.
Jaron Lanier, Wired 1.02, May/June 1993, p. 80
No class in history has ever risen as fast as the blue-collar worker and no class has ever fallen as fast.
Peter Drucker, Wired 1.03, Jul/Aug 1993, p. 80
In the world of immersion, authorship is no longer the transmission of experience, but rather the construction of utterly personal experiences.
Brenda Laurel, Wired 1.06, Dec 1993, p. 107
I expect that within the next five years more than one in ten people will wear head-mounted computer displays while traveling in buses, trains, and planes.
Nicholas Negroponte, Wired 1.06, Dec 1993, p. 136
Pretty soon you’ll have no more idea of what computer you’re using than you have an idea of where your electricity is generated.
Danny Hillis, Wired 2.01, Jan 1994, p. 103
If we’re ever going to make a thinking machine, we’re going to have to face the problem of being able to build things that are more complex than we can understand.
Danny Hillis, Wired 2.01, Jan 1994, p. 104
Computers are the metaphor of our time.
Jim Metzner, Wired 2.02, Feb 1994, p. 66
Yesterday, we changed the channel; today we hit the remote; tomorrow, we’ll reprogram our agents/filters. Advertising will not go away; it will be rejuvenated.
Michael Schrage, Wired 2.02, Feb 1994, p. 73
The scarce resource will not be stuff, but point of view.
Paul Saffo, Wired 2.03, Mar 1994, p. 73
The idea of Apple making a $200 anything was ridiculous to me. Apple couldn’t make a $200 blank disk.
Bill Atkinson, Wired 2.04, Apr 1994, p. 104
Roadkill on the information highway will be the billions who will forget there are offramps to destinations other than Hollywood, Las Vegas, the local bingo parlor, or shiny beads from a shopping network.
Alan Kay, Wired 2.05, May 1994, p. 77
The future is bullshit.
Jay Chiat, Wired 2.07, Jul 1994, p. 84
Money is just a type of information, a pattern that, once digitized, becomes subject to persistent programmatic hacking by the mathematically skilled.
Kevin Kelly, Wired 2.07, Jul 1994, p. 93
In a world where information plus technology equals power, those who control the editing rooms run the show.
Hugh Gallagher, Wired 2.08, Aug 1994, p. 86
Some functions require domesticated robots — wild robots that have been bribed, tricked, or evolved into household roles. But the wild robot has to come first.
Mark Tilden, Wired 2.09, Sep 1994, p. 107
Immortality is mathematical, not mystical.
Mike Perry, Wired 2.10, Oct 1994, p. 105
As the world becomes more universal, it also becomes more tribal. Holding on to what distinguishes you from others becomes very important.
John Naisbitt, Wired 2.10, Oct 1994, p. 115
Marc Andreessen will tell you with a straight face that he expects Mosaic Communications’s Mosaic to become the world’s standard interface to electronic information.
Gary Wolf, Wired 2.10, Oct 1994, p. 116
Life is not going to be easy in the 21st century for people who insist on black-and-white descriptions of reality.
Joel Garreau, Wired 2.11, Nov 1994, p. 158
Take Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd. In mere seconds, you get an entire war — the strategy, the attack, the retreat, the recapitulation. The whole military-industrial complex is reduced to a bunny and a stuttering guy zipping across the landscape.
Brian Boigon, Wired 2.12, Dec 1994, p. 94
The very distinction between original and copy becomes meaningless in a digital world — there the work exists only as a copy.
Daniel Pierehbech, Wired 2.12, Dec 1994, p. 158
It’s hard to predict this stuff. Say you’d been around in 1980, trying to predict the PC revolution. You never would’ve come and seen me.
Bill Gates, Wired 2.12, Dec 1994, p. 166
For a long time now, America has seemed like a country where most people watch television most of the time. But only recently are we beginning to notice that it is also a country where television watches us.
Phil Petton, Wired 3.01, Jan 1995, p. 126
What gives humans access to the symbolic domain of value and meaning is the fact that we die.
Regis Debray, Wired 3.01, Jan 1995, p. 162
The scary thing isn’t that computers will match our intelligence by 2008; the scary thing is that this exponential curve keeps on going, and going, and going.
Greg Blonder, Wired 3.03, Mar 1995, p. 107
The future won’t be 500 channels — it will be one channel, your channel.
Scott Sassa, Wired 3.03, Mar 1995, p. 113
In the future, you won’t buy artists’ works; you’ll buy software that makes original pieces of “their” works, or that recreates their way of looking at things.
Brian Eno, Wired 3.05, May 1995, p. 150
It’s important to regard technology in the long sweep of history as being one with history.
Vernor Vinge, Wired 3.06, Jun 1995, p. 161
Sufficiently radical optimism — optimism that more and more seems to be technically feasible — raises the most fundamental questions about consciousness, identity, and desire.
Vernor Vinge, Wired 3.06, Jun 1995, p. 161
I believe human nature is vastly more conservative than human technologies.
Newt Gingrich, Wired 3.08, Aug 1995, p. 109
We’re using tools with unprecedented power, and in the process, we’re becoming those tools.
John Brockman, Wired 3.08, Aug 1995, p. 119
If the Boeing 747 obeyed Moore’s Law, it would travel a million miles an hour, it would be shrunken down in size, and a trip to New York would cost about five dollars.
Nathan Myrhvold, Wired 3.09, Sep 1995, p. 154
Isn’t it odd how parents grieve if their child spends six hours a day on the Net but delight if those same hours are spent reading books?
Nicholas Negroponte, Wired 3.09, Sep 1995, p. 206
The human spirit is infinitely more complex than anything that we’re going to be able to create in the short run. And if we somehow did create it in the short run, it would mean that we aren’t so complex after all, and that we’ve all been tricking ourselves.
Douglas Hofstadter, Wired 3.11, Nov 1995, p. 114
What the Net is, more than anything else at this point, is a platform for entrepreneurial activities — a free-market economy in its truest sense.
Marc Andreessen, Wired 3.12, Dec 1995, p. 236
3-D isn’t an interface paradigm. 3-D isn’t a world model. 3-D isn’t the missing ingredient. 3-D is an attribute, like the color blue.
F. Randall Farmer, Wired 4.01, Jan 1996, p. 117
Without a deep understanding of the many selves that we express in the virtual, we cannot use our experiences there to enrich the real.
Sherry Turkle, Wired 4.01, Jan 1996, p. 199
The annoyance caused by spammers grows as the square of the size of the Net.
Ray Jones, Wired 4.02, Feb 1996, p. 96
We’re born, we live for a brief instant, and we die. It’s been happening for a long time. Technology is not changing it much — if at all.
Steve Jobs, Wired 4.02, Feb 1996, p. 106-107
Just as there is religious fundamentalism, there is a technical fundamentalism.
Paul Virilio, Wired 4.05, May 1996, p. 121
When I want to do something mindless to relax, I reinstall Windows 95.
Jean-Louis Gassee, Wired 4.05, May 1996, p. 190
It is doubtful that the [computer industry] as a whole has yet broken even.
Peter Drucker, Wired 4.08, Aug 1996, p. 116
The most successful innovators are the creative imitators, the Number Two.
Peter Drucker, Wired 4.08, Aug 1996, p. 118
We have a predisposition in Western culture for “just do it,” whereas, I think that part of the future will be built much more around “just be it.”
Watts Wacker, Wired 4.09, Sep 1996, p. 168
Revolutions aren’t made by gadgets and technology. They’re made by a shift in power, which is taking place all over the world.
Walter Wriston, Wired 4.10, Oct 1996, p. 205
Wires warp cyberspace. The two points at opposite ends of a wire are, for informational purposes, the same point, even if they are on opposite sides of the planet.
Neal Stephenson, Wired 4.12, Dec 1996, p. 98
The Web is alive. Not as a sentient being or mega-meta-super-collective consciousness, but more like a gigantic, sprouting slime mold.
Steven Alan Edwards, Wired 5.04, Apr 1997
Of all the prospects raised by the evolution of digital culture, the most tantalizing is the possibility that technology could fuse with politics to create a more civil society.
Jon Katz, Wired 5.04, Apr 1997
Technology is not the nameless Other. To embrace technology is to embrace, and face, ourselves.
David Cronenberg, Wired 5.05, May 1997, p. 185
Community precedes commerce.
John Hagel, Wired 5.08, Aug 1997, p. 84
Modern technology is a major evolutionary transition. It would be astonishing if that occurred without disrupting existing life.
Gregory Stock, Wired 5.09, Sep 1997, p. 128
Pollution is a measure of inefficiency, and inefficiency is lost profit.
Joe Maceda, Wired 5.10, Oct 1997, p. 138
For email, the old postcard rule applies. Nobody else is supposed to read your postcards, but you’d be a fool if you wrote anything private on one.
Miss Manners, Wired 5.11, Nov 1997
The American government can stop me from going to the US, but they can’t stop my virus.
Dark Avenger, Wired 5.11, Nov 1997 (from a side-bar item on p.270 which does not appear in the Wired digital archives, excerpting from an interview by Sarah Gordon)
It is the arrogance of every age to believe that yesterday was calm.
Tom Peters, Wired 5.12, Dec 1997