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👋🏻 Welcome to this week's edition of TimeMachiner. Thanks for subscribing and checking out my work. I'm so happy you're here.
The internet is a fickle place. We hear a lot right now about Twitter and ChatGPT and NFTs and crypto. Are those fads or the "next big thing"? Hard to tell right now, but one fun thing to do is to look back at what things heralded as the future of something and fizzled real quick.
Path is an interesting one. The defunct social network was founded on a simple premise: you could only have 50 friends. The idea was you never really knew that many people in real life. If you only were friends with people on Path that were close enough IRL, you would share more and share interesting things. Path hit with a splash but was acquired a year after its debut and shut down in 2018.
I know 3D Printing will be a controversial inclusion. But hear me out. As someone who owns a 3D printer, I can see how great it is. But I am painfully aware of its shortcomings. The concept of "printing" anything you need is fantastic. For small parts that break in things, 3D printing is amazing. You can make a single item to replace a No Longer Available part or parts that are too expensive to buy. But it's a hobbyist's toy at most. Dialing in print detail, leveling print beds, learning design software, etc, etc. It's never something everyday people will use. It is slow, prints can easily go off the rails mid-print causing one to start over, and just a pain in the butt. Mine sits in a corner collecting dust because the use cases for it aren't worth the work needed to make it work.
Remember WebTV? If there was a product that was as 90s as it gets, this is it. The idea was sound: browse the internet on your TV instead of buying a costly computer. It was a simple box you plugged into your TV with a made-for-TV interface. But the price of the tech and the rapidly-dropping price of computers (especially from eMachines) ensured WebTV never got off the ground. Maybe this could be a future issue of my defunct Longform articles if I revive those. 😉
This list could go on for a long time, but the common denominator is this: there is a great inability to see around corners and predict where things will go. The world is unpredictable on its own and then when you layer the rapid pace of technological innovation on top of it, you get the biggest of X factors. Perhaps a year from now the big ideas from only a year ago will reveal themselves to be hits or failures. We shall see.
For now, that is all I have. I hope you have a great week.
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TODAY'S RANDOM FACTOID
In 1961 two hydrogen bombs were accidentally dropped over North Carolina. A glitch prevented them from detonating. Source
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