Rate of change

I was chatting with a coworker about a new project we are building with Google Apps and the Google Web Toolkit and he came back with something that struck me as profound about the rate of change that we live in today. Oleg said:

"Remember how I said yesterday I am enjoying working on App Engine and GWT? Well I'm going through the new features in GWT 2.0. Oh My God! So many improvements. This is the best platform I can possibly imagine for developing rich web applications. And this is nothing compared to what we will be able to do with HTML5!!! I'm afraid that with this rate of change my understanding of possibilities is far behind what's already possible."

In other words what we are imagining might be possible at some point in the future is already here. I'm experiencing this every day and I believe it is because we are all living at a fairly unique point in time for humanity. Today we are all standing on a rate of change curve that is shaped like a hockey stick and we had have have had very limited experience with what this means as we have only been here for a very short while. When asked to predict what will happen next year we use the past year as a reference point. But as the rate of change increases what had been accomplished last year may only take a matter of a month or even a week to accomplish now. We as humans are just not that good at that exponential extrapolation. We tend to think on linear lines and have a very hard time with exponential expansion.

What does this mean? Ignore sunk costs more than ever before. Ignore what was done before as it may have absolutely no bearing on what you will do today. Stretch the imagination further than you have ever done and aim for the farthest point out that you can conceive. And just maybe you will be able to have a grasp on what might happen next week. ;-)