The year was 1995. Subsequently, the 20-year-old computer expert and internet user Clifford Stoll published an article in Newsweek magazine that explains why the internet would not be at the height of the growing sense of hype.
Was it called the Internet? Bah! – Warning Hype: because cyberspace is not, and never will be, nirvana ".
It is easy to look back and laugh in retrospect how stupidly some of his predictions have been wrong, although it is also curious to know how incredibly accurate the less obvious predictions have been. This shows how difficult it is to predict the future and nobody really knows how things will turn out.
Stoll summed up the clamor by suggesting: "Visionaries see a future of teleworkers, interactive libraries and multimedia classrooms, talking about electronic city meetings and virtual communities.
"Trade and business will move from offices and shopping centers to networks and modems, and the freedom of digital networks will make the government more democratic."
Stoll called it inaccurate and unrealistic. "No online database will replace your daily", he proclaimed.
He made fun of the idea that a clumsy computer could replace a pleasant book. "Nicholas Negroponte, director of MIT Media Lab, expects that we will soon be buying books and newspapers directly on the Internet.
He continued to deny the idea of online shopping as unrealistic. "We have been promised instant shopping catalogs: just point and click for exceptional offers, we will order air tickets through the network, make reservations at the restaurant and negotiate sales contracts, the shops will become obsolete.
"So, why is my local shopping center doing more business in an afternoon than you are managing the entire network in a month?"
Over time, Mr. Stoll has proven to be in embarrassing error on these points.
"That's enough for a 20-year summary in 2015 with The Los Angeles Times who told the reporter that he has not read the piece since it was originally published.
This is unfortunate, because hidden in its predictions are some gems of precision.
He complained that the Internet made sure that "every voice can be heard at low cost and instantly" and warned that it can be overwhelming and provide much of what we live today with social media.
"The cacophony closely resembles the city band's radio, complete with handles, harassment and anonymous threats, and when many scream, few listen."
He also accurately predicted some of today's challenges of identifying facts with respect to fiction.
"The Internet has become a desert of unfiltered data, you do not know what to ignore and what is worth reading."
He was right, as far as we progressed, he still brought new challenges.
Predicting the future is incredibly difficult. There is a lot of hype and it can be difficult to scour everything.
If I had read Mr. Stoll's piece shortly after the e-commerce bubble, most of his predictions would have been very prescient.
Given more time, it became more confusing. Some of his predictions were surprisingly inaccurate, while others were the opposite.
Over time, many of its predictions may turn out to be false and others may prove more truthful than we had achieved. How long it will take is unknown.
What is clear is that "cyberspace" and the "World Wide Web" were not magic that fixed all human ills; they were a complex representation of a future that we still had to really understand.
They were quite confusing to no longer use these terms because they were a panacea for everything to the point where they no longer made sense.
This brings us back to today's predictions around cryptocurrencies and blockchains.
In the same way it was difficult to predict the future of the Internet and to understand how it would change our lives over 20 years in the future, the same could be said of the blockchain.
We simply do not know what the future will have to hold.
A prominent figure in the local industry recently told me that he was not convinced that cryptocurrencies or digital resources had any value for the future of Bermuda.
"I understand blockchain", he told me, making sure I saw a future in blockchain, but not in digital resources.
The example he gave was curious. He had read that Hilton was a pioneer of blockchain work and stood out as a true example of the application of technology. I was curious and a little skeptical.
What problem of trust in several parts does Hilton aim to solve? He was not able to provide specific information, but he was convinced that the blockchains were good, digital resources and cryptography were bad, and that Hilton was a test.
The trouble is that the only Hilton case I was working with blockchain I found was a company that was trying to create a real estate revenue management system powered by a loyalty token that announced a partnership with Hilton a month before making a & Initial supply of money.
Rick Hilton, father of Paris Hilton and passionate about cryptocurrencies, was also awarded as a consultant in his white paper.
Interestingly, its ICO was supposed to be two weeks after the Securities and Exchange Commission had agreed with two other ICO issuers, and since then there have been no communications from the company and ICO does not seem to be successful.
I could not find any other blockchain projects run by Hilton, so it leaves me curious.
This individual has simply read about this project and assumes that, since Hilton is behind it, he must confirm his views on the value of the blockchain, but not on cryptocurrencies?
This, simply because of its apparent admiration for the Hilton brand? Perhaps, maybe not, even if it is a common theme in this space. People seem to jump to believe what they want rather than dig into the details.
Months ago, L & # 39; economist proclaimed: "Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are useless – for the blockchain, the jury is still out".
The challenge, however, is that there is no clear agreement on what "blockchain" means.
There are some who claim that a blockchain without cryptocurrency is actually a distributed ledger, not a blockchain. There is a huge amount of confusion and oversimplification that leaves the term rather meaningless.
The challenge is similar to that of Mr. Stoll, who was very skilled in technology, he saw above all what he was then rather than the change he could bring.
It's really hard to predict and understand why it's changing so fast.
I have been studying blockchain and distributed generalization technologies for years and I will not go near to claiming that I "understand" it.
The more I learn, the more I realize that I simply do not know.
I recognize that this technology is much more than a "glorified Excel spreadsheet", as the main skeptics such as Nouriel Roubini say.
As a result, I have developed my opinions on the industry countless times while I continue to acquire knowledge and, above all, I try to keep an open mind to any possible result.
Understanding this technology requires a fundamental understanding of the constituent elements of distributed systems, cryptography, politics and economics.
These fields are complex and wide, which makes understanding blockchain not easy.
It is worse when the word itself is reduced to a phrase without meaningless meaning. It became a massively overwhelmed word in the same way that "cyberspace" and the "World Wide Web" were at the time of Stoll's article.
There is certainly a lot of hype that in the short term could be proven wrong, but in the long run it could be shown just as technology evolves. The challenge is that it is really difficult to predict the future.
You can not just look at it as it is today and assume it will not continue to evolve. Therefore, it is difficult to really understand the implications of how these new technologies will affect the world in the long run.
Worse, the alleged experts have the full potential for long-term denial, including this author.
It is easy to get caught up in the hype and prejudices. In the end, we will see how everything will vanish and how the world has really changed from this new technology and from the concepts that are being built around it.
In the meantime, I am particularly pleased that Mr Stoll is wrong about teleworking opportunities; the reason is that I was grateful to work and present this edition of my column while I was traveling during the holidays and I know that many of those who read it will do so on the cyberspace World Wide Web.
Even if we did not use any of those overwhelmed slogans to describe it again.
• Denis Pitcher is a software and technology solutions consultant with an interest in exploring the potential of blockchain and distributed-ledger technologies. He is also co-founder and chief architect of resQwest.com, a global provider of technology solutions for tourism. He can be contacted at [email protected]