1988 Prediction: "Alumni nationally and throughout the world would be able to subscribe to materials provided by the "Communications Desktop," no matter how specific." When? "The best guess: 1993."
2009 Reality: Correct. RSS provides this ability now, although listserv and USENET newsgroups provided similar functionality at the time of the '88 report.
1988 Prediction: "[By 1998], video will be sent across networks as quickly as a computer copies a file today."
2009 Reality: Correct. Streaming video hit the web in 1998, just as predicted ten years earlier by Brown's "information experts." That year, 284.6 million video streams crisscrossed the Internet.
1988 Prediction: University library systems "will be electronically accessible in the future for those alumni seeking all manner of reference material..." But "economics, not technology, stand in the way of sharing with Brown's extended family the vast resources of a great university."
2009 Reality: Correct. They nailed that one, especially the economics part. Sure, tremendous amounts of free material are online, but expensive journals and databases remain off-limits to off-campus users because of Byzantine licensing policies. But open access publishing has begun to change that and an online academic information revolution lies just ahead.
- An alumna in Houston logs in and searches the Brown University library and the national library for documents she needs for her job as an Exxon scientist. "The search takes a minute and appears on her computer at home."
- She downloads a topographic map and has it printed in a field office.
- Then she switches to her personal account and looks at the student newspaper, the alumni magazine, and a campus news periodical online.
- Noticing an article about one of her professors, she sends him an email and a family photo.
- She sees a listing for a talk that is being delivered on campus that night – 1,800 miles away. She requests "to have the videotape downloaded onto her machine within 24 hours after it is given."
You have to form the habit of not wanting to be right for very long. If I still believe something after five years, I doubt it.... Anything you hear about computers should be ignored. We are in the Dark Ages.... You can read what your contemporaries think, but you should remember they are ignorant savages.