Thought Leadership

Crystal ball

By Colin Walls

Writing my last blog of 2009, I am in reflective mood. I read about some recent research that showed that time really does seem to go faster when you are enjoying yourself and, to me, it does seem like only yesterday that we were heralding the new century/millennium. Now, as we approach the end of its first decade [which is actually next year, but I am going to adopt the common misperception for the moment], it is interesting to think about what is characteristic of 21st Century life…

When I was growing up in the 1960s and 70s, I had expectations of what the 21st Century would be like. I was confident that space travel would advance, with a base on the Moon and people on Mars. But I have been disappointed in that respect. I fully anticipated the advances in TV and it is pleasing to see that big screen, HD televisions are so cheap [compared, for example, with what old-style TVs cost years ago]. Mobile phones would not have surprised me either [as I was a Star Trek fan], but their use for so much beyond just talking was not expected. When Arthur C Clarke first mooted the idea of artificial satellites, many people wondered if they would ever be really useful to “normal” people. Now we have GPS, and sat navs cost unbelievably little money, considering that they do something that would have been considered magic not long ago.

The single biggest change, that most people [including me] did not see coming, is the Internet. It is probably mankind’s most significant invention since the wheel and has already changed all of our lives. In the coming decade, its ubiquity, resulting from easy access via mobile devices, will change things even more. To me, that is almost compensation for not making it to Mars.

A century is just an arbitrary grouping of years, but somehow they seem significant. We all knew people whose lives were spent entirely in the 20th Century. Other people were born in the 19th Century and lived to see the 21st. A friend of mine is due to have a baby in the New Year. It occurred to me that her daughter is probably the first person I will have known who has a really good chance of seeing in the 22nd Century. Who knows how many changes she will see in the years until then.

I anticipate my life changing in various ways as we enter the new year/decade. For example, I moved to my current house in 2000 and hope to move to a new house in a different town in 2010 [if I can sell my house!]. But I am happy to embrace change and I am excited by the possibilities. In the meantime, I would like to thank all the readers of my blog for their comments and feedback through the year. My Other Half cannot understand why Mentor pays me to do something that I enjoy so much and much of that enjoyment arises from the responses I get. If you celebrate Christmas, I hope that you have a good one. And may we all have a peaceful New Year.


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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at