I sometimes use these surveys about the future of the Internet to solve some of my professional problems. I was hoping to do that in this survey when we created scenarios about the future of gadgetry. My hope was that I could get people who know more than I do to tell me what hot new gadgets or applications would emerge in the coming decade. I am often asked, “What’s next?” by people who are desperately trying to steer their organizations into the future. They are trying to figure out where they should place their bets on the technology that will capture the marketplace the way e-mail did in the mid-1990s, the Web did in the late 1990s, peer-to-peer services did in the early 2000s, blogging did several years later, social networking services and texting did in the mid-to-late 2000s, and mobile apps did at the end of the decade.
I assumed that the experts who usually respond to our surveys would give me the answer. Instead, they genuinely surprised me. We created a pair of future scenarios: one where experts could say they pretty much know now what technologies would conquer the market by the year 2020 and one where they could say that hot technologies a decade hence