Words are confusing. Between pleonasms, epizeuxis, and tautology it is a marvel we accomplish as much as we do as a species. This very same confusion must be what led Robert Scoble to diagnose himself as a futurist when, I’m fairly certain, he meant enthusiast. He claims to have inside sources about upcoming tech and is incorrect to a degree he actually just be throwing darts at a board of random pieces of tech before assigning its release date using a series of arbitrarily chosen numbers. Shel Israel may suffer from this too, but my knowledge of his work hinges mostly on the future of socialization and generally not screaming about how Apple is going to rule the world with AR headsets sometime in the next few days.
The Fourth Transformation is a sort of future facing drooling simulator. Between the two of them, Scoble and Israel saw the big sign in the distance shrieking the words, “THE FUTURE IS COMING®” and bought it hook, line, and sinker. And the book turns out beautifully as long as you take it on its surface. It is uncritical, but loving. It is the dog you’ve always wanted. It praises and praises, and when it can’t praise it drops the topic and finds a new toy to chew on it. Once you take a step back and realize that the tech they are praising and predicting in five years requires battery technology that is both multiples more powerful AND smaller than anything we have now, You have officially moved me from gawking to checking to make sure my wallet is still in my back pocket.
If the acronym VR causes you to flinch or to incoherently start screaming about the Nintendo Virtual Boy, this book can help. If you want to be excited about future-tech, this book is your magic carpet. It is just important to remember that neither author possesses any technical skill in the technologies they are flaunting as our inevitable future. They are only fans, fans that have, through the power of relentless promotion, been raised to the echelons of experts.
The future is coming. It’s going to be a trip. Now, whether it is one worth taking is anyone’s guess. But if I’m being entirely honest I’d rather not have people leveraging themselves into wealth and acclaim on the heels of something that, for all intents and purposes, doesn’t exist yet.
“History shows that where gamers take people, everything else follows.” – Robert Scoble and Shel Israel, The Fourth Transformation