Trying To Be Nostradamus

It’s a funny feeling if you manage to predict the future.

One our famous prophets of doom, Nostradamus (more recently aided by the email chain letters of our modern age) must turn in his grave with glee every time he gets something right. These days we never know which are his original predictions, or convenient folly’s constituted moments before by a nerd exercising artistic license. I find the blogosphere pretty similar – you’re never quite sure where the predictions come from or their validity without checking first.

Nostradamus was a 16th century French pharmacist and astrologist, forecasting the doom and gloom of  disasters, but there have of course been many foresighted fellows in history predicting events far sooner and with greater accuracy.

Our enigmatic war leader Churchill, not only predicted Hitler’s aggression, but in a report to the newly involved Americans in 1942 outlined many of the major elements of the entire war to President Roosevelt in report ironically entitled WW1

This of course begs the question to what extent we predict but more so, influence, future events?

Walking to work this morning I noted all the website addresses on the doors of the shops and offices. I remember in 1997 confused to the point of despair why clients I spoke to (whose first website my then company was building) didn’t want to emblazon URLs on their shop fronts. It was the early days of the worldwide web, the future explosion of which young Andrew J Scott had no influence on; but other innovations I just may be contributing to.

Those unfortunate enough to know me well, have heard me bark on about location based services and mobile since 2002. After that it was how ‘who’s nearby is a commodity‘, more recently about the inevitable domination by Android (despite being labelled a virtual heretic by incensed Valley geeks drunk on iPhone cool-aid), and since 2006 I’ve been blabbering on about trust networks, filtering the noise and personalisation. People are certainly starting to talk about “context” the last two years, but Rummbles trust network technology (and its peers) is yet to make the real impact I know it will.

The point is throughout my peddling of these beliefs (most often over pints of beer after industry events) what actual impact do we have on their realisation? Clearly Mr Zuckerburgers belief in social networking has been at the epicentre of its own realisation. If it wasn’t for the lacklustre name it might even have become a verb as ‘Google’ has; being “Facebooked” sounds simply painful or expensive.

As for Nostradamus, he was doing a 1550 re-tweeting of a lot of other peoples work, based on a mix of classical and bible sources plus some circumstantial observational evidence of planet alignment, sort of when there was last a disaster they were in this position .. so next time they’re there we can surely expect another catastrophe.. sort of predication. Sounds like rock solid science to me.

Cartoon credit: unknown - please email me if you do!

At least in all his foresight Nostradamus rejected the label ‘prophet’ claiming: “Although I have used the word Prophet, I would not attribute myself a title of such lofty sublimity”. Of course, I have no prophetic gifts either. I have made some timely predictions but I simply chose to envelope myself in something very early on which is turning out to be important.

After all, if you’re working in the kitchen, it’s a whole lot easier to predict accurately when the lunch will actually be ready.

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