Paleo-Future is an interesting blog. It mentions various ideas and predictions about the future that didn’t come true.

One example is the belief from 1906 that “Aerial Navigation Will Never Be Popular“. Even the 1996 New York Times was very far off when they predicted 2006 (merely 10 years).

It shows us how we are inept in predicting the future. Ideas that we think will not succeed – more often than not – do. Technologies that we have high hopes for don’t always go as far as we expect.

Why? A couple of reasons, I think. Firstly, I believe the expectations have a negative impact on the innovation. With high expectations, more people are watching the progress of the technology, and more major corporations enter the market. The problem with that is that major corporations tend to take less risks. With higher expectations, people are more afraid of failure, and as such don’t take the risks required for true progress and innovation. When you have nothing to lose, you’ll be willing to take more risks and try more new ideas, and eventually you’ll probably win.

Secondly, and this is a point I’ve touched on before (and it’s something I learned from Seth Godin’s blog), we tend to predict the success of an idea based on our current world view and mindset. This fails because revolutionary ideas change our world view. More on this can be read here.

So what can we learn from this? Don’t be afraid to take risks – don’t be afraid of failure. Go for broke. Don’t let the current world view limit you, be willing to go out on a limb and change that world view. And you may just change the world.