Monday, December 31, 2007

2008 - Watching for the black swans

It's New Year's Eve and I've just picked up one of the most popular and best reviewed non-fiction books of 2007 - The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Spending a few moments reflecting on my own personal experience, it's clear that the author has twigged on to something very significant. Whether it's the rise of the World Wide Web (or to be more specific, HTML-based web pages) or Google, YouTube, Facebook or any other number of technology phenomena, nothing beforehand would have allowed an accurate prediction of their respective successes.

So, for 2008, as I finish this book and Taleb's earlier book (Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets), I resolve to imagine the unpredictable, to anticipate the unexpected, and to be prepared for surprising opportunities. Yes, I will work on planning and risk management and improving my skills and knowledge about existing technology. But I will also look for anything but the sure thing, assured that the future is located somewhere in those black holes rather in the artificial light of the office cubicle.

I don't have any predictions for 2008, no prognostications - except to say that when I look back a year from now, I don't think it will be about the release of Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008, or even Visual Studio 2008. Something else will almost certainly have captured the imagination of IT professionals and developers. Well, maybe, maybe not. But insofar as IT professionals are tuned to the future of information technology, it won't be the obvious stuff that makes the year outstanding. It will be something that is now barely even on the radar.

I can hardly wait.

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