Are YOU from “The Future?”

Here’s a talk I gave a week ago in Tel Aviv, Israel, to the Techonomy conference where I talk about some of the things that’s changing in my world.

But last night I spoke to a bunch of parents at a private school in San Francisco.

The two audiences couldn’t be more different.

One understands Twitter and Facebook and Google Buzz in depth. One is someone afraid of it. One guy stood up last night and asked “do I need to be on Facebook to understand what my kids are doing on it?”

William Gibson wrote “the future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed.”

There have been only a few times in my lifetime where I could see just what Gibson meant and we are living in this time right now.

It’s also interesting that today Microsoft Office came out with a new version. I’ll probably buy it but I’m using Office less and less. Something that I noticed in talking with the entrepreneurs in Israel too. When I fly, though, I see most business people are still using Windows XP with Office 2000 or Office 2003. Mostly PowerPoint or Excel is what I’m seeing on planes. While most of the people I hang out with at TED or other conferences have moved onto using things like Zoho’s spreadsheets, Google Spreadsheets, or Prezi’s or SlideRocket’s presentation tools.

Folks used to make fun of those of us who were from the future as “inside Silicon Valley’s bubble.” But notice that this bubble from the future no longer is tied to a place. Tel Aviv has lots of “future” practitioners, when I visited the best Tel Aviv restaurant there was someone already using an iPad there and they don’t even have an Apple store. Sure, Silicon Valley has more than its fair share, but I’ve met people all over the world who would rather use Prezi than PowerPoint. Would rather have an iPad than a Windows 7 netbook. That would rather have a smartphone than a Series 60 Nokia phone. That would rather use Facebook than email. That would rather write a tweet than do a press release. Etc etc.

Are you from the future? Here’s some ways you might tell you are:

1. Have you copied some Javascript code for your blog? IE, do you know what it’s like to embed YouTube videos into something else, like I did with this post? If you have, you are from the future.
2. Have you written some filters on Gmail to filter your emails? Then you are from the future. (That is the single most productive thing I’ve done this year, by the way, I’ve written hundreds of filters to clean my inbox of noise which has made my email usable again).
3. Have you shared something that used to be private, like your health information, your credit card information, your drunken college photos, your baby’s birth, your sexual orientation, or something else that used to be taboo? Then you are from the future. Extra points if something like that has gotten redistributed in Techcrunch and you kept your job.
4. Have you gotten your cable upgraded or fixed just by Tweeting @comcastcares ? Then you are from the future. Extra points if your company is using tools like UserVoice, Spigit, GetSatisfaction, or Zendesk.
5. Have you started up a new Linux or Windows server from an iPad or iPhone or Android phone using a cloud service on Rackspace Cloud or other cloud hosting provider? Then you are from the future.
6. If a streaming news system like SkyGrid, My6Sense, Genieo, etc to get your news instead of looking at a news brand like the New York Times, then you are from the future.
7. If you have a Sprint 4G modem in your pocket, then you are from the future.
8. If you use a VNC app to call into your home computer from your iPhone or iPad or, even, your old-school Windows 7 netbook (I use LogMeIn on my iPad), then you are from the future.
9. If you watch TV online, then you are from the future. Extra points if you are using Boxee.
10. If you discover music on Spotify or Pandora from your Facebook friends, then you are from the future.
11. If you check in on Yelp, Foursquare, Gowalla, Loopt, Brightkite, Whrrl, Fiddme, or use Google Latitude with your friends then you are from the future.
12. If you use Salesforce Chatter, SocialText, Jive, SocialCast, Box.net, or Yammer at work with your coworkers, then you are from the future.
13. If you use Skype more than you use standard old cell phone service for your voice calls, then you are from the future.
14. If you no longer are bothered by the penises on Chatroulette, then you are from the future. Extra points if you already have come up with a way to do business on it.
15. If you sign up for conferences but only go for the lunch-time networking (I’m watching the SmashSummit on Ustream right now) then you are from the future.
16. If you read Techcrunch in at least three different places (I read it on Techcruch, TechMeme, Washington Post, Twitter, Facebook, and Google Buzz) then you are from the future.
17. If you know how Techmeme selects news, then you are from the future. Extra points if you can pick founder Gabe Rivera out of a crowd.
18. If you have deleted your Facebook account, then you are from the future. Or, if you, like me, have gotten over Mark Zuckerberg’s throwing privacy under the bus and have just marked all your accounts as totally public because that way you know you’ll never be disappointed by something leaking into public view that you weren’t expecting to, then you are also from the future.
19. If you have hosted a live video stream on Ustream, Qik, or Justin.tv then you are from the future.
20. If you can tell at least three reasons why the New York Times iPad app sucks then you are from the future (or Steve Jobs, and we all know he’s from the future). BTW: it sucks because it’s not streaming, not complete, not easy to share, not easy to participate in.
21. If you share your vehicle’s location on Waze instead of using Google Maps, then you are from the future.
22. If you have more than five Twitter lists then you are from the future. You are even more from the future if you have listed yourself on both Listorious and Tlists.
23. If you have a Google Profile that’s filled out then you are from the future. Extra points if you have more links to more things than my Google Profile has.
24. If you have augmented your Gmail with something like Gist, Rapportive, or eTacts, then you are from the future.
25. If you feel dirty when you save a file to your local file system, then you are from the future. You are even more from the future if you are using a device, like the iPad, that makes it hard to, if not impossible, to save to the local file system. Extra points if you already think DropBox is your file system and JungleDisk is your new hard drive.
26. If you know that the number of followers on @Twitter really doesn’t mean anything, then you are from the future. Extra points if you already have implemented Twitter’s @anywhere feature on your blog.
27. If you know the difference between uploading a photo to Flickr, SmugMug, Picasa, or Facebook, and why you would use one vs. another, then you are from the future. Extra points if you pay for an account on at least two of these services.
28. If you are having discussions with your friends about how Facebook will take away Google’s air supply then you are from the future.
29. If you are already planning to buy Xbox Natal for your Christmas gift to yourself, then you are from the future. Extra points if you are going to stand in line for new Halo Reach coming too. Master Chief is definitely from the future.
30. If you think WordPress is old school and Tumblr or Posterous is the way to blog now, then you are from the future. Extra points if you can articulate what the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com are.
31. If you manage your conference schedule in Plancast, then you are from the future.
32. If you have hooked your Plancast up to Tungle.me which is managing your Google Calendar, then you really are from the future.
33. If someone has gotten mad at you because you take three minutes at the beginning of a meal to Foursquare, Gowalla, Fiddme, Tweet, or do something else on your iPhone or Android phone, then you are from the future.
34. If you know two things that are best on iPhone, RIM, Android, Palm, or Nokia, and two things that suck on each of those systems, then you are from the future. Extra points if you have one of each in your pocket.
35. If you manage multiple Twitter accounts, then you are from the future. Extra points if you can explain the differences between Hootsuite and CoTweet.
36. If you have a monitor that only displays Tweetdeck or Seesmic, then you are from the future. Extra points if you have an iPad that only displays social media apps.
37. If you use iPads to DJ your parties, then you are from the future.
38. If you already have Facebook like buttons on everything you build online, you are from the future. Extra points if you don’t, but can articulate why.

How do you know you are from the future? What are you doing that all your “normal” friends want to smack you upside the head for? If you are already living in a future I’m not, please let us know what apps you’re using.

About Robert Scoble

As Startup Liaison for Rackspace, the Open Cloud Computing Company, I travel the world with Rocky Barbanica looking for what's happening on the bleeding edge of technology and report that here.

50 thoughts on “Are YOU from “The Future?”

  1. Africa needs African's to decide their destiny. Dambisa Moyo talks about “Dead Aid” http://www.dambisamoyo.com/ We can't let new technology blind us from empowering redundant mindsets. China is embedded deep into Africa with their long-term economic plans. A good way of using the social web is asking Africans what they think of the Chinese.

    [v.o.M.]

  2. The chief “hole” is the “hole in the pocket” of poor people who don't have a future to begin with. Making a living is a concern for common folk without making the future feel like a “must have”. It is far more important we use emerging technical gadgets to find ways to help each other B-hole rather than focus on working out who is the A-hole.

    [v.o.M.]

  3. I just heard that you have a PC, an XBox, an iPhone, an android Phone etc. Is this what technology for future means ?

    I mean, isn't the future like getting everything with a device or two.

  4. I read books on paper, and have an attention span way greater than 30 seconds, I am obviously from the past.

    Using a small army of pointless geek tools doesn't make one from the future…just a limited demographic reinvent-wheels present.

  5. Does it automatically make me from the future if I comment on my fiancee's comment instead of just telling him in person that I think he is the most futuristic person I know! I think he wishes my stories would all be 140 characters or less. lol. :)

  6. “14. If you no longer are bothered by the penises on Chatroulette, then you are from the future.”

    We are getting exactly the future we deserve.

    Then again, there are a few sci-fi enthusiasts that might say, “If Steampunk neo-Victorian sensibilities have reignited your appreciation for mystery, curiosity, and delicious anticipation… you are from the future.”

    I'm not hopeful.

  7. Scoble, this article cracks me the F-up! It's nice to see a list clearly outlining why I'm from the future. I can't even express in under 140 characters all of the reasons why I like this article so much.

  8. Except I think TechCrunch is largely a click bait article writer. Still some value left but frankly it has been waning IMO.

    And Foursquare updates fed into every stream imaginable is really and actually annoying as heck.

  9. Legendary post Robert!

    I'm missing 4 points
    day job uses PowerPoint :(, bu I prefer Google docs, slidesharee, sliderocket, and now writing on a whiteboard or napkin more
    skipped chatroulette penis spotting
    I dig wordpress over Posterous/Tumblr but use all 3
    not familiar with what sucks on other mobile devices (but fiendig for a 4G android)

    this post is win 10/10

  10. If I can answer yes to just a couple of items, am I from the future?

    If I never had a Facebook Account, am I from the past… or cutting edge?

  11. I don't remember where I heard this, but this post reminded me of it: “I'm from the future. They sent me back here because the future is so bad, and I'm supposed to fix it.”

  12. I wonder if you spoke to a bunch of parents at a school in Tel Aviv if the audiences would be so different. But hey it's cool to compare apples to oranges. Wait I think I missed the point.

  13. I wonder if you spoke to a bunch of parents at a school in Tel Aviv if the audiences would be so different. But hey it's cool to compare apples to oranges. Wait I think I missed the point.

  14. Wonderful! I hope you don't mind that I reblogged your detailed work at my blog – giving you full credit, or course!

    Your sense of humor with regards to this technology is refreshing. Damn right I'm from the future!

  15. At this point, WordPress is still more futuristic than Tumblr or Posterous. WordPress.org, at least. Because, you see, if you have your own web server and host most if not all of your identity and communication apps on it, then you're from the future.

    Tumblr and Posterous haven't yet been ported to such a futuristic system, though.

  16. In the future it will happen automatically, or, alternatively, you'll do it by thinking about it. The present-day assholeness stems from absorbing yourself in your cellphone instead of paying attention to the actual, physical human beings who are standing in front of you.

    If there's a new technology in the future which requires people to disconnect themselves from the flesh-and-blood humans currently interacting with them in meatspace, it too will have the potential to make you an asshole.

  17. All of these items don’t identify you as “from the future” – they identify you as a geek :-)

  18. I am not sure about this one. It is not the checking in that is “assholish” it is doing it while there are real live people there in front of you. It most definitely collides with the important idea of being here now. I can see it if you are eating alone or you and your friend are trying to find other people to join you – but if your partner is not checking in then I think it is out of line. People matter more than things or status.

  19. Oh dear, I can answer 'yes' to almost all of these. I'm not sure that makes me 'from the future', rather I think it probably just makes me a massive geek! :-)

  20. The future is now but can it be used to enhance the lives of many the world over caught in a time warp?

    Robert – well I guess we all are at slightly different developmental stages within this amazing picture that you paint of the future which is present and happening all around us now. The good thing for us is that it is all easily accessible and if there are aspects of it that we have yet to appreciate then we only have to look to Scobeizer and others to give us the heads up. However, in looking at all the wonderful new applications and cloud computing my thoughts turn to those who don't even have electricity let alone the internet. Technological advances over the centuries have brought communities from all over the world closer together and the web has accelerated this process and even more so with the emergence of the social web. Unfortunately the future that we are experiencing now can make us lose sight of those that are still experiencing what for us is a very remote past and becoming remoter each day. On the other hand a product of this future could be to bring real help to those that need it the most. One example of this is to be found at http://www.africagathering.org/about.php. Africa Gathering needs support in their mission to bring about positive change in Africa.

  21. Just make sure to not go all Howard Hughes on us in the end.. “It's the way of the future…it's the way of the future…it's the way…” :)

    BTW, Tumblr and Posterous is already the “old way to blog” again, the new new way is curating/blogging on http://Amplify.com

  22. On #4, you mean just the broadband part of the cable, right? Isn't cable TV from the present (or the past, because of #9) ?

    In #10, where does that leave last.fm? (and scrobbling?)

    On #11, shouldn't it be “extra points if you use http://m.check.in ” ? (and it's a way to avoid #33)

    Other “future” parts:

    If the only data line coming into your house is for broadband (ie. no cable or voice phone line), you're from the future. Extra points if you've figured out your bandwidth needs so you didn't over-select or under-select your plan.

    If you're using jailbroken hardware from Apple, you're from the future. Extra points if you are written jailbreaking applications.

  23. Then in the future we'll need to leave extra time before we arrive somewhere to announce our arrival. Common courtesy is still relevant.

  24. This book by Tony Schwartz may be relevant here: The Way We're Working Isn't Working: “The defining ethic in the modern workplace is more, bigger, faster. More information than ever is available to us, and the speed of every transaction has increased exponentially, prompting a sense of permanent urgency and endless distraction… Left unmanaged and unregulated, these same technologies have the potential to overwhelm us. The relentless urgency that characterizes most corporate cultures undermines creativity, quality, engagement, thoughtful deliberation, and, ultimately, performance…..when we fuel ourselves on a diet that lacks essential nutrients, it shouldn't be a surprise that we end up undernourished and unable to operate consistently at our best”

  25. In the future you'll be an asshole if you DON'T check in and let your friends know you are nearby. Already this is a fun game with my friends, not assholish at all. If anyone thinks checking in is an assholish behavior then they certainly are NOT from the future.

  26. I have. I think Office is going to be the Photoshop of work tools. Smaller and smaller percentage of people will use them, but they will be highly profitable and expensive. More and more businesses will move more and more people off of Microsoft tools to escape the cost. Some employees will never leave and I think you've discovered two such groups.

  27. Please be the first media type person to ask someone in Finance or Accounting about Google Docs so you understand how truly worthless it is in the Enterprise..the thoughts of software engineers and media really don't matter, cause they don't use the Office productivity suite to nearly the same extent

    #33 makes you more of someone who lacks interpersonal skills, not so much from the future. Though it is sad that that is how the future is going to be…Wall-E, can't wait.

  28. Somehow my son still figures out how to keep me out of his Facebook account, so there's still privacy. I think you're right and there's a lot of overbashing of Facebook right now.

  29. “do I need to be on Facebook to understand what my kids are doing on it?” – Isn't the answer a resounding NO? If it isn't no, then don't all the “Facebook has destroyed the concept of privacy” people need to shutdown their blogs and Twitter accounts?

  30. “33. If someone has gotten mad at you because you take three minutes at the beginning of a meal to Foursquare, Gowalla, Fiddme, Tweet, or do something else on your iPhone or Android phone, then you are from the future.”

    Wouldn’t this one just make me a present AND future asshole? I’m mostly from the future but I hate hate hate how technology sometimes makes us ignore the humans that are right in front of us.

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