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Bring On the Next Big Thing

Sergio Roitberg — January 16, 2013
If you’re under 21 years old and you’re reading this, chances are you’ve never encountered ICQ. It might be difficult for you to imagine that not long ago, in the late 90s, this application, which at the time was only available on desktop computers, revolutionized online communication.
It’s icon was a little flower in a square frame.It reached more than 100 million users by early 2000. We were just dipping our toes into the world of online chat. Socially at first, then for work. We began to use the phone less. Over time, it became clear that this was the beginning of a new form of interpersonal communication, even when two people were in the same room.
However, this pioneer of chat was unprepared or unable to stand its ground against the onslaught of MSN, the chat program from Microsoft, which wiped away any trace of what came before and formed a new language of its own.
Over a period of 10 years, more than 100,000 new users signed up for MSN each day , adding the famous logo of two abstract human figures to their computer screens around the world. “What’s your MSN?” became a common expression By the time,the MSN community had swelled to 360 million users, no one could imagine that that kind of success would vanish.  But it  has and now it’s official.

Microsoft has just given MSN an expiration date. Within months, all users will have to switch to Skype, the popular video calling software that Microsoft acquired in May 2011. Microsoft has acknowledged that Skype, not MSN, is the future of communication.

How do you explain the fall of such giants? Speed.

One third of the companies featured in Jim Collins’ 2001 bestselling book Good to Great no longer exist. MySpace was the social network of the future—a future that never came. Google Buzz launched to huge fanfare, only to be shuttered in less than two years. The iPhone 3G everyone raved about when it debuted 4 years ago is now history. The examples are endless and all have one common denominator. The constant barrage of new technology  that heaps new benefitsupon  us at breakneck speed.

The world has changed more in the past three years than in the previous 15. Today, those who win are those who are able to adapt to chang fastest, in the frenzy of our turbulent and uncertain times.
Unlike in the past, when the benefits of advanced technology were limited to an elite few, today’s technological tools such as Facebook and Twitter involve everyone in a process that has forever altered the way we perceive time. Millions around the world can access a wealth of information instantaneously, without the need of a radio, newspapers or television.
NOW is the rule, but it’s not something fleeting: it’s a new tense—the present future; a time in flux. A dialectical and contradictory perspective that advances—and combines—the present with a future that’s already here. This is the greatest principle of the technological revolution.

Never has old-fashioned been more outdated: “Conversation is dead. No one even talks to each other any more!” or “They’re ruining language as we know it,” are clueless expressions from a bygone era. Not to mention the armchair doctors that diagnose others with BBS (BlackBerry Syndrome.)

Get over it. We will see many more familiar objects and applications disappear as easier, faster and more efficient technologies take their place.

It’s not a colossal ordeal like Jodie Foster coming out of the closet. It’s just a matter of stepping out of your comfort zone.


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