There were several things Nicolas Negroponte said on Charlie Rose the night of February 6, 1995. One of those was to stop thinking in atoms and start thinking in bits and bytes-the theme of his book “Being Digital” For those today, this probably seems “old school” if you realize it has been almost thirteen years since he said it and everyone is familiar with the binary system of zeros and ones and the high-speed transfers today of DSL, cable, WIFI/WMAX, T-1, 2, or 3. But remember back then just about everyone had dial-up. Take a little plastic connector (about $0.79) at the end of telephone line and disconnect from your handheld and plug it into your desktop-very few laptops then. When put in perspective, atoms to bits and bytes-digital-took quite a leap in everyone’s mind.
One of the other things Negroponte said in another interview was how information would be more valuable then the money you could make from that information. But most importantly, he said he no longer read the Wall Street Journal or “techie” magazines to keep up with changes and innovations which had the greatest impact on technology. He said he kept up with what was happening in the entertainment side of technology. It was games and widgets that drove the innovations, especially in the area of graphics, not business or government.
When I think today about the latest widgets, iPods, iPhones, all kinds of hand held devices, X-box, satellite radio, Wii’s great innovations for entertainment and communications, what Negroponte said still seems to hold true.
I am not writing about Negroponte for purposes of nostalgia, even though I am nostalgic. I am simply trying to make a point about listening for and paying attention to those voices that help us understand today’s world, help connect what is happening by putting things in a familiar context and listening to those giviing us a glimpse of tomorrow.