“Imagine if you were all sitting down to your morning coffee, turning on your home computer to read the day’s newspaper…”
So begins this news segment from 1981—a report on early attempts at bringing the news online. It’s an entertaining clip to watch today, as the newspaper business crumbles before our very eyes due to the popularity of Web-based (free) delivery channels.
Granted, this clip is 27 years old at this point, but it’s fun to see how drastically things have changed since then. Not only do we now consume our news (and many other forms of media) online; we carry it in our pockets on iPhones, Blackberries, and Kindles. We “tweet” links to one another and have hundreds of publications feeding their content to us via aggregators and RSS readers. (Full disclosure: I actually stumbled upon the clip by reading a friend’s Facebook status containing the link, which he had discovered via Twitter.)
Once in a while, it’s fun to stop and think of how very different things are today than they were 20 or 30 years ago. Things that seemed like complete science fiction back then are now commonplace. It makes some of the innovations and experiments we toy with today seem all the more possible. Actually, one of the things Professor Yunus mentioned in his talk the other night was that it’s important to push toward the seemingly impossible, because much of what we have today would have been considered absurd just a few decades ago.
I’m reminded of the time I showed my father a movie playing on my iPhone, and he said, “Wow, that’s great. So, you have a little tiny tape in there?” I nearly fell over laughing. But then I realized that, in his lifetime, he went from a world without electricity (he was born and raised in rural India) to records, to 8-tracks, to casette tapes, to CDs, to MP3s. That’s a lot of change in one lifetime, and we’re not even close to done yet.
So any time an idea seems “impossible,” just remember that much of what was once thought to be impossible is now a part of our daily lives. Innovation can sometimes seem obvious, but some of the biggest breakthroughs have been those ideas that seemed just a little bit too crazy. Sometimes, you just have to go with it.