Back when my family first encountered the excitement of dial-up internet, I took up knitting. This was back when loading a single website could take five full minutes or more. Starting at the little eggtimer was just as frustrating then as it is now, so knitting at least kept me busy in those interminable pauses.
I was thinking those early days as I read Architects of Tomorrow by William Van Winkle. Some of the interviews collected in the book date back to that period, while others are more recent. The thing that they have in common is that all of the interviewees are in one way or another, pioneers in the technology field. From gaming to processors to personal computers to services such as Smashwords, these were people with a vision of where technology would take us. One thing I particularly like in the book is that Van Winkle has gone back to the interviewees in the past year, asking them which of their predictions have come true and what their new vision for the future is, given the exponential speed at which technology is now developing. While it’s a form of guessing game, it is made up of educated guesses by some of the smartest minds in the business, so all of their comments are well worth reading.
As a book, I think the collection holds up well. I’m not a reader of CPU Magazine, where the articles originally appeared, and I’m fairly sure I don’t fall into the target readership either. Some of the interviews were a little heavy on the technical details or of limited interest to the general reader. However, Van Winkle’s interviewing style is full of enthusiasm and he doesn’t presume a great deal of technical knowledge. I do think that there were perhaps too many interviews in the collection – as a book, I think it may have been more satisfying if some of the weaker interviews were cut out.
On the whole, I enjoyed reading this book, and I’ll probably buy Volume 2 as it comes out – perhaps not to read cover to cover as a whole, but to dip into now and again. Many people ask “What’ll they think of next?” and it’s the interviewees in Architects of Tomorrow who are most likely to have the answers.