Nordic Track Book Club Review: Future Files

The title of today’s Nordic Track read is Future Files: The 5 Trends That Will Shape the Next 50 Years.  I read a lot of future trends books as you know, and this one from Richard Watson was as enjoyable as any I can remember.  Sound logic to support his predictions on what’s ahead.  If you see this book during your next visit to Barnes and Noble, check out the Innovation and Extinction timeline graphics on pages 8 and 9. 

There are a lot of good excerpts here.  I particularly like the last one from page 266. “Companies will need to realize that they are buying people for their ideas, not their time or physical presence.  So annual contracts will be related to objectives met, not hours worked.  This will mean an increase in sabbaticals and a further blurring between what happens at home and work.”  (Kinda like being a freelance developer…)

No reason not to give this one 5-out-of-5 [NordicTrack] Ski Stars. 5 stars it is!



p.3 GRIN refers to Genetics, Robotics, the Internet and Nanotechnology.  The convergence of computing with robotics and nanotechnology could give rise to self-replicating machines.

p.19 I will gain access to my hotel room with my worldphone or the chip inserted in my jaw and be able to customize it myself to look and smell just like home.  But I still won’t be able to get a sandwich from the restaurant at 10:30 PM.

p.22 It will become much easier to isolate ourselves physically from other people, at home or at work—which for some people will be the same place. Simultaneously we are becoming more and more connected.

By the year 2050 there will be two highly intelligent species on earth. Traditional genetically pure humans and technologically aided hybrid humans.

p.30 What was “free” to their forebears (fresh air, public parks, beaches, libraries and so on) will all cost money.

p.35 Make a list of what exists today and what you are able to do now that didn’t exist or couldn’t be done 50 years ago. Now add a multiplier to take into account the fact that technology tends to advance exponentially and you may start to see that the future really is “out there.”

p.43 The internet is already fostering an unanticipated form of a hive, a highly efficient market place for ideas and information known as collective intelligence or the hive mind.

p.57 It is our relationship with machines that will be the defining characteristic of the 21st century.  Where we draw the line between what we want them to know or do or see will set the direction for the next thousand years.

One of the really great things about machines now is that they don’t think.  They just do.

p.73 Green taxes will be used by most democratically elected governments within the next five years.  There will be a shift from taxing “goods” to taxing “bads.”

In Canada some churches are urging congregations to boycott bottled water citing reasons of ethics and social justice.  Others have pointed out that eating lettuce may become socially unacceptable because growing the plant is not environmentally sustainable.  It uses lots of water and it has a nutritional value of next to nothing.

There will be two totally different types of media organizations. Both will obviously aim to appeal to as large an audience as possible, but only one will be able to survive when the audience is tiny.

p.97 Newspapers written entirely by readers like AllMyNews in South Korea authored by 40,000-some citizen reporters is read by 2 million South Koreans.

p.103 Most people have neither the time nor the skill to create anything even remotely worth reading or watching.  Hence, the demand for quality content will increase, not decrease in the future.

p.106 Perhaps the answer is not just producing movies, but creating ideas that start in film and then are extended to other areas.

p.113 One of the best descriptions of media companies is that they attract and retain people’s attention by using some form of technology.

It’s about how and when people receive information. It’s about formats and devices.  Audience numbers will matter less to advertisers than information about where they are and when they’re there.

The personal device would know that I like old cars since I used it to pay for a subscription to classic Cars magazine.  So if I was walking past an old car showroom it could send me a video message of what was inside along with current loan rates.

p.142 If you’re worried about boarding a particular chairlift while on a skiing holiday, you could buy additional insurance to cover the 5 minute trip instantly through your mobile phone.

p.156 One way we might be persuaded to let go of the wheel is to allow us to do other things in our car instead.  There is clearly a strong latent demand for people to talk on their cell phones, read newspapers, or check email while they are driving.  So why not let them do it.  Cars will increasing shift from transportation devices to information platforms.

p.176 Strangely something else we’ll be seeing is less choice.  Ranking Ranqueen in Tokyo is a chain store that sells everything by lists.  For example, it sells the top five pastas, the top five soups, etc.

p.266 Companies will need to realize that they are buying people for their ideas, not their time or physical presence.  So annual contracts will be related to objectives met, not hours worked.  This will mean an increase in sabbaticals and a further blurring between what happens at home and work.


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A long time developer, I was an early adopter of Linux in the mid-90's for a few years until I entered corporate environments and worked with Microsoft technologies like ASP, then .NET. In 2008 I released Sueetie, an Online Community Platform built in .NET. In late 2012 I returned to my Linux roots and locked in on Java development. Much of my work is available on GitHub.