For most of my professional life the saying has been “Five years from now”, as in:

  • “Five years from now bandwidth will be fast enough we’ll be able to stream HD video.”
  • “Five years from now computers will be fast enough to render video in real time.”
  • “We need another five years until a small hand held computer is actually a useful thing”
  • “We’re still five years out from having a computer that can go all day on a battery charge.”
  • We’re about five years away from not needing all of these wires.
  • In five years I’ll be able to take a credit card from anywhere.

I don’t know when it happened, but five years from now is here.

I watch HD YouTube streams on my 55″ TV all the time, I beam my desktop from my Mac to that same HDTV without the need of wires.  My wireless internet connection is as fast as I need it all the time.  I carry around the equivalent computing power to my desktop computer from 1999…in my pocket!  I regularly use a tablet that can do 90% of the things I need to do in a day, and which yields me about 8 hours of battery life easily.  My laptop gets me a good 5-7 hours of battery life most days.  I don’t worry about my data anymore because it’s all around me in the ubiquitous “cloud”.  I still carry a USB key on my keychain, but I barely ever use it.  I have an elaborate backup system at home, that failed me recently…and which “the cloud” saved me from without me ever knowing that I was in peril.

I get comics, magazines and books digitally, and when I want to read something, I can do so without ever leaving my chair.  We don’t have video stores anymore, if you want to watch a movie you rent and download it (either through a device like AppleTV, or your cable box), but more often than not I stream it from a streaming service like Netflix, where for about the cost of a couple rentals a month, I get a firehose of content.

That’s the thing about the future, it kind of sneaks up on you.

This week’s Best of List: