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Tech Trends No Longer Linear

Not that you haven't noticed yourself, but a lot of big overlapping changes are wafting through technology, and I don't mean the iPhone on Verizon.

Amid the pitches in my inbox this week is an IDC prediction that total data volume will reach 35,000 exabytes in 2020 compared to 1,200 exabytes in 2010. 

There is a note from Gartner saying that, within two years, one-third of all BI functionality will be consumed through handheld devices.

A news story says cursive handwriting will soon disappear as a skill of most schoolchildren. If this one strikes you as obvious, I can understand, but a lot of us would call it a watershed much bigger than the move from CDs to flash drives.

A corporate friend is pinging me with his obsession over corporate tweeting, and wants us to get on the ball with the topic.

That's just this week and it goes on and on. 

Macro change is in the air and as many have noted, change can be difficult. One kind of change is the type we make to our own behavior. Another kind calls for accepting that something around us but out of sight has changed, despite an urge to say it could not have. This type of change is the range that runs from curiosity to skepticism to disbelief. 

It happens a lot in IT commentary, because so many developments can technically be called recycled. Web services are just another kind of CORBA, big ERP is dead and then it is back, virtualization is integration and so on.

Enterprise IT as we know it is itself becoming an unreliable specialization. In some ways too few have covered the industry for too long. For a relatively small group, everyone in the business seems to have been around forever (and most seem to have had their first job at Digital Equipment Corp. 30 or 40 years ago).

For all of us, it is getting tough to keep context on which angles are changing our behaviors quickly and dramatically in real life. By far, most of our regular readers and visitors hang right in there with us but change is now so rampant in overlapping areas I think I can even understand why it is leading to some unease.

There is an unkind note in my inbox today claiming our story on the IBM Watson computer is just a rewrite of the Deep Blue chess exercise. Another insists it's just another Bayesian manipulation.

No it‘s not. But for the people on both the supply and demand side of technology news, it is getting tougher to fall back on linear experiences and make our experience apply to every case. Fortunately we have a lot of smart contributors and resources to turn to and that's why we are here.

Big data, cloud computing, social media, mobility, search, no one knows all the end games so the best we can do is follow the developments with an open mind. It’s good to question an idea with a decent argument and maybe it is a defense mechanism, but at some point, stubbornness is becomes inadequate as a reactionary fallback position. 

One of my Facebook friends sagely pointed out to me yesterday that, “People who say, ‘At the end of the day,’ say ‘At the end of the day’ a lot. And they usually don’t mean, ‘At the end of the day,’ when they say it.”

My friend should get a medal for that observation, but I know somebody will write to say somebody else said it first.

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