I’ve long recognised that there is a category of technologies and trends that are “2/10 signals” or events; that is, technologies (and their underlying trends) which largely fail to live up to the ‘hype’ in the first two years of existence but that, when we look back ten years later, we see that technology represented a significant inflection point that had broader, unrecognised (or unanticipated) impact.

I’ve recently stumbled across a quote from Paul Saffo, Director of the Institute of the Future, who summarises this aspect of new technology far more eloquently:

 “It’s a very consistent pattern in this business that collectively as a society and as individuals we all suffer from what I call macro-myopia. A pattern where our hopes and our expectations or our fears about the threatened impact of some new technology causes us to overestimate its short-term impacts and reality always fails to meet those inflated expectations. And, as a result our disappointment then leads us to turn around and underestimate the long term implications – and I can guarantee you this time will be no different. The short-term impact of this stuff will be less than the hype would suggest, but the long-term implications will be vastly larger than we can possibly imagine today.this revolution is more than unpredictable.”

As I survey the Web 2.0 landscape, I see much that makes me think of this quote.