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The Performance Perspectives Blog: Thank you, Clifford Stoll (Of failed predictions and performance management)
Delaney Turner 270002T14M firstname.lastname@example.org | | Tags:  cognos performance_management innovation mashups innovation_center enterprise_2.0
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Remember Clifford Stoll? In 1995 he was one of the Web's biggest skeptics, predicting in Newsweek and his book Silicon Snake Oil that the Web would fail to live up to the hype. His essay, The Internet? Bah! was recently unearthed by Three Word Chant. In it, Stoll predicts the many ways the Web will fail. For example:
Failed predictions can be fun
It's easy - not to mention fun - to point out the many ways that Stoll was wrong (Expedia, PayPal, eBay, Amazon...). Stoll himself admits as much. But as Farhad Manjoo points out in his always excellent Slate column, the essay is a useful example of the ways technology predictions can fail.
I'd add that it's a useful primer for building a performance management platform as well. I'll get to that in a minute. First, let's look at Manjoo's reasons why Stoll's predictions were so far off-base:
A lack of perspective
I'd add that the common thread uniting these failures is Stoll's lack of perspective. Specifically, his lack of a unified perspective. He chastises the Web for lacking the richness and color of the real world. Granted, in 1995 it was easy to see the Web and the real world as distinct, separate environments. In 2010, thanks to Google Maps, Foursquare, augmented reality and the iPhone - not to mention an entire generation that's grown up digital - those lines have been blurred, if not completely erased.
Now about that primer
If you turn each of Stoll's failures on its head, you have three core attributes of a performance management platform. Specifically:
Finally, about that unified perspective
Twitter will hit 10 billion tweets sometime tomorrow, and all that chatter offers companies a rich new vein of data to analyze and leverage. As our own Jacqueline Coolidge observed at TDWI Winter last week, companies that can integrate all relevant data - internal or external, structured or unstructured - into their decision-making processes will be better able to manage risk, identify opportunities and move ahead in our brave new world.
It would be nice to have some idea of which predictions to trust and which to dismiss, writes Manjoo. The same holds true in business. And from the murky Web depths of 1995, Clifford Stoll has inadvertently shown us how to get started.
Get started today:
For an equally amusing look at equally ambitious predictions of a world to come, check out Paleofuture, which brings us this gem from 1967: