My talk yesterday at AAAS went well, if too long (the person who was supposed to be flagging the time got distracted, and never gave me any indicators that I was going on, and on, and on… But that’s not really what I want to post about. The thing that triggered this is the speaker giveaway from AAAS, which is a combination laser pointer and 1GB USB drive.
“Big deal,” you say. Those are cheap.” And, yeah, they are, but when you think about it, that’s really kind of amazing.
50 years ago, the laser had barely been invented, and was still in search of a problem. Nobody had yet had the idea that one of the problems to which is was a solution was “What will I use to indicate where I am on a projected slide?”
20 years ago, 1GB was almost unthinkably large. I’m not sure you could get a 1GB hard drive when I was in college. Certainly not an internal one– we were kind of impressed by the 100MB drives in my advisor’s office computer. I’m not sure what I would’ve done in 1991 to generate that amount of data.
The idea that you would get both of those items in a single package, with a weight of about 20 grams, and that the combination would be so cheap that they would literally give them away to people for speaking at a conference would’ve been all but inconceivable.
I’m still waiting on my flying car, but in lots of little ways, living in the future is amazing.