At the end of May we learned that a true industry influencer, teller of tales and highly regarded editor and columnist, Walt Mossberg, has put down his proverbial pen for the last time. He has been writing about technology since the early 90s, before many of the technologies we’ve come to rely on were even a single line of code in the mind of their developers.
Mossberg was writing about the future of technology when Google was simply a number and before Amazon changed the rules of retailing. Microsoft was around, but its focus was on the desktop and Microsoft Office was in its infancy. I’ve followed his work for years and his technology reviews were gold—whenever a new gadget was released or a vendor claimed their product would change the world, he’d be the first to quell the hype or give a product its just desserts. As I write this, I’m thinking about his sometimes brutally honest opinions and chuckling at his ability to get the likes of Steve Jobs or Bill Gates to participate in an onstage interview—unscripted, without notes or slides.
Kidding aside, Mossberg’s last re/code post, “The Disappearing Computer,” was about the future of technology. In it, he gives a nod to the past and the way technologies such as the desktop PC have shaped the world, and at the same time notes that while it seems we’ve reached the tipping point for some technologies, such as the smartphone, in other cases, we’ve barely scratched the surface.
Mossberg specifically talked about the depths of Artificial Intelligence and how within 10 years, the development efforts underway today will affect the business landscape—as much as the iPod changed how we listen to music or the internet made the world a much smaller place. This is not the first time that Mossberg has made bold predictions that turned to reality, and I’m sorry it will be his last.
As someone who has been following the tech trends for nearly 18 years and is immersed in the worlds of mission-critical app dev, mobility, cognitive-first development and more, I can say with absolute certainty that I agree with his “predictions” and the infinitely short timeframe in which these far-off ideas will become a reality. Simply look around at the explosion of smart devices and sensor-connected machines that can read everything from potential maintenance failures to modifying room temperature or notifying homeowners if the lights are left on, let alone virtual agents such as Siri and Alexa, and it is easy to imagine where AI can take us.
Mossberg is also quick to note that some of the companies that will make these developmental strides have not yet been born. Not hard to imagine, when you think about how Uber, in less than 5 years, took over the taxi industry. It is even more so evident for those of us who work with the developer community—these are the people inventing tomorrow and their ability to manipulate and advance code in ways not previously thought possible is almost mind-blowing.
I’m fortunate because Progress has been part of the developer community for decades and many devs depend on our platforms and tools to build their applications. So not only do I get to read about the trends Mossberg and so many others so eloquently describe, but I get to see first-hand the creation of these apps and I get to talk to the developers that have an immense passion for what they do.
So, hats off to you, Mr. Mossberg. I hope retirement suits you and I hope you continue to keep a close eye on the technology landscape—a market that you not only wrote about, but helped to shape in a very meaningful way.
Erica Burns has more than 15 years’ experience in high-tech PR and corporate communications. With a focus on building awareness across the media, analyst and influencer communities, she has worked with all kinds of businesses--from start-up to global tech giants to build visibility, credibility and market awareness within the business, trade and online media. At Progress, Erica and her team are responsible for worldwide media, analyst, social media and customer relations activities.
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