Social Inertia

Oct 14 2009

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Time for a rant.

I was struck recently by the number of pundits who confidently attempt to predict the future.

This is often in small ways: How Amazon’s Kindle Will Kill the Paperback or Why Company X is Doomed. Most of us are savvy enough to cast a suspicious eye at big claims about the death or supremacy of any commonplace thing in life.

Even the smaller-scaled predictions have insufficient respect for social inertia.

Books are a great example. I love my Amazon Kindle, and I use it almost every day. But I don’t believe books are going to go away any time soon. This is not a complaint about Kindle; it’s an observation about how many books there are.

The rise of cell phones didn’t cause everyone to rip out their landline phones. The internet hasn’t killed physical libraries.

People, as a collective, are slow to change. That’s just reality. And it’s okay; it’s good, in fact. Science fiction literature is practically one big warning to slow down and think, so we don’t en masse implement a disastrous change.

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