Over on Boing Boing, Cory Doctorow posted a 1981 TV report on early downloadable newspapers. But the post is more interesting for Cory’s conclusion:
This is pretty much the epitome of what’s wrong with corporate futurism: it assumes that things will change in a way that enhances the corporation’s ability to get the job done (which, of course, it does), but without changing things in ways that enhance the world’s ability to clobber the corporation’s bottom line.
The Internet will enable us to deliver pay-on-demand movies to our viewers’ homes (but it won’t let them get those movies without paying for them)
The Internet will enable us to save money on our long-distance trunks (but it won’t let callers bypass the tariff-based telephone system altogether)
The Internet will enable the police to coordinate international investigations (but it won’t let criminals coordinate their activities to evade the police)
There are a few more suggestions in the comments. I’m fascinated by unintended consequences but these are more like unenvisaged consequences, the kinds of things futurists might overlook because their world view blinkers them into thinking of only one kind of future. It’s good to have reminders of these kinds of faults with some forecasting.
(I feel a little bad, especially given the limited rate of posting these days, when I repeat something from a widely-read source. But when I don’t have much time for blogging or reading then I don’t get as far as the murky deep obscure sources. And besides, I shouldn’t assume you all read exactly the same things as me.)