It’s only by looking outside your own environment that you can identify opportunities.
James Gleick, in his book, The Information, talks about the introduction of the electric telegraph. Gleick says that in 1852, the ‘idea of connecting Europe with America, by lines extending directly across the Atlantic, is utterly impracticable and absurd.’ The impossible was accomplished by 1858.
Information that just two years earlier had taken days to arrive at its destination could now be there – anywhere – in seconds. This was not a doubling or tripling of transmission speed; it was a leap of many orders of magnitude.
Queen Victoria exchanged pleasantries with President Buchanan. The New York Times announced “a result so practical, yet so inconceivable." The social consequences could not have been predicted, but some were observed and appreciated almost immediately. Fire brigades and Police Stations linked their communications. Proud shopkeepers advertised their ability to take telegraph orders. It was like the bursting of a dam whose presence has not even been known.
A telephone is useless if you don't know anyone else who has one. Who would you call?
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