Prediction

You can’t predict the future.

A fellow named Alan Kay somewhat famously quipped that the “best way to predict the future is to invent it.” (Can you tell he built computer software?)

That kind of works in the virtual world, maybe, but even in the world of machines it’s easier said than done.

You can certainly forge ahead of others into the future, but do you know what you’ll find there? How others might react to their new present? Why the past worked out quite how it will? You might blaze a particular trail, but at the very least you’ll find you aren’t the only one in the forest.

Another software inventor approaches the future more modestly: “Leadership is less about aiming correctly at the start and more about the persistence to make constant course corrections.”

You might find the best plans assume very little about the future itself. They require very little prediction. It may be a fun game to guess at what is coming next, and it’s certainly wise to trace out where a trend is likely to take you, but “past performance does not guarantee future results” (as they say).

People are probably the most perplexing part of any prognostication. But plan for the unpredictable; don’t avoid it.

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Nathan Vander Wilt

Nathan Vander Wilt

Nate loves to wrestle big hard problems into little approachable softwares (/books/posts/tweets). If he's not busy designing apps for clients, he's probably busy building ideas for fun. Lately he's been also busy growing fish and plants together in his suburban greenhouse, and sharing good books and loud music with his family.

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  • Good stuff Nate. It’s interesting to try and look where you’re going while remaining fully aware of where you are. “Watch your step” they say. “Look where you’re going” they say. Can we, should we look into the future and sacrifice the scenery of now? Do we, can we soak up the present and still avoid stumbling?