New tech “is a toy”

Why is it that so many people are keen to dismiss emergent technology?

Have you ever heard anyone dismiss some new tech as basically just a toy. Mac users lived with that abuse for decades before Apple’s rise under the returned Steve Jobs. Facebook was dismissed as a teenager play-thing. In fact there’s a long and ignoble tradition of major new innovations being described as trivial or unimportant.

Steven Sinofsky has written a useful rebuttal to that idea on Medium:

As many have recognized, when inventions and innovations first appear they are often (always) labeled as “toys” or “incapable” of doing “real work” or providing “real entertainment”. Of course, many new inventions don’t work out the way inventors had hoped, though quite frequently it is just a matter of timing and the coming together of a variety of circumstances. It can be said that being labeled a toy is necessary, but not sufficient, to become the next big thing.

And you’ll be amazed at how many of the defining innovations of the past couple of decades make the list.

Remember that next times someone tells you confidently that, say, virtual reality is a toy…