A Model of Success

When Croquet is a success, what will it be? Really? Forget about the applications, what will Croquet itself actually do?

The other day I was sitting on my back porch. Resting comfortably on my lap was all the resources I needed to do my high-tech computer work. The box also played my favorite music, and when my wife asked about the lyrics, I was able to look them up in the greatest library the world has ever known. We checked our calendar, and printed a custom map to the next day’s event. And so forth.

Not so very long ago, it would have been very hard to imagine this, despite having had it all spelled out for us by Vannevar Bush or by Douglas Englebart on specific dates in 1945 and 1968. For any given technology, it seems to be very hard for most of us to fully imagine our future with it. I think the reason for this is that when the future comes, it’s all about the applications. The music player. The information index and specific song lyric libraries. Calendars, directions, and the tools for my work. We live in applications. We buy applications. Applications make or break a technology. But these applications don’t just happen because they are good ideas. They happen only (and not always) when there is a suitable enabling technology. It is rare that we think about what the enabling technology really is, fundamentally.

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