In truth, there’s never a flip.
We can identify when a specific technology was created, tested, or deployed, but not when an era precisely occurred.
This is because technological change requires a lot of technological changes, plural, to all come together.
The first wave began around 1881, when Thomas Edison stood up electric power stations in Manhattan and London.
Although this was a quick start to the era of electrical power — Edison had created the first working incandescent light bulb only two years earlier, and was only one year into its commercialization — industrial adoption was slow.
Some 30 years after Edison’s first stations, less than 10% of mechanical drive power in the United States came from electricity (two thirds of which was generated locally, rather than from a grid).
But then suddenly, the second wave began.
Between 1910 and 1920, electricity’s share of mechanical drive power quintupled to over 50% (nearly two thirds of which came from independent electric utilities).
By 1929 it stood at 78%.
This ‘second wave’ of industrial electricity adoption didn’t depend on a single visionary making an evolutionary leap from Thomas Edison’s core work.
Nor was it driven just by an increasing number of industrial power stations.
Instead, it reflected a critical mass of interconnected innovations, spanning power management, manufacturing hardware, production theory, and more.
There was no amount of money Apple could have spent to release the iPhone 12 as its second model in 2008.
Even if Apple could have devised a 5G network chip back then, there would have been no 5G networks for it to use, nor 5G wireless standards through which to communicate to these networks, and no apps that took advantage of its low latency or bandwidth.<…>
Getting to the iPhone 12 required ecosystem-wide innovation and investments, most of which sat outside Apple’s purview.
We should think of the overall market as driving itself.
We must also consider the role of changing user capability .
The first iPhone could have skipped the home button altogether, rather than waiting until the tenth.
This would have opened up more room inside the device itself for higher-quality hardware or bigger batteries.
But the home button was an important training exercise for what was a vastly more complex and capable mobile phone than consumers were used to.
Like closing a clamshell phone, it was a safe, easy, and tactile way to ‘restart’ the iPhone if a user was confused or tapped the wrong app. It took a decade for consumers to be able to have no dedicated home button.
- First, the proliferation of these technologies fundamentally changed human culture, from where we lived to how we worked, what we made, what we bought, how, and from who.
- Second, these ‘revolutions’ or ‘transformations’ really depended on a bundle of many different, secondary innovations and inventions that built upon and drove one another.
- Third, even the most detailed understanding of these newly-emergent technologies didn’t make clear which specific, secondary innovations and inventions they required in order to achieve mass adoption and change the world. And how they would change the world was almost entirely unknowable.
The Metaverse is best understood as ‘a quasi-successor state to the mobile internet’.
This is because the Metaverse will not fundamentally replace the internet, but instead build upon and iteratively transform it.
The mobile internet has led to changes in how we access the internet, where, when and why, as well as the devices we use, the companies we patron, the products and services we buy, the technologies we use, our culture, our business model, and our politics.
Metaverse iterates further by placing everyone inside an ‘embodied’, or ‘virtual’ or ‘3D’ version of the internet and on a nearly unending basis.
In other words, we will constantly be ‘within’ the internet, rather than have access to it, and within the billions of interconnected computers around us, rather than occasionally reach for them, and alongside all other users and real-time.