Most important inventions and innovative ideas have a starting point or source. At some point in time, there was the “mad scientist” or “crazy villager” who rattled off on a whim regarding his mind-blowing, world-shattering revelations of the future. I’m sure many have embodied disbelief in extreme or radical ideas for the future of the Internet, and technology in general. However, if inventors and innovators let naysayers stand in their way, we still might be trying to Google through Paul Otlet’s˚ massive index card database.
In Otlet’s last book, Monde, he articulates a final vision of the great réseau that might as well serve as his last word:
Everything in the universe and everything of man would be registered at a distance as it was produced. In this way a moving image of the world will be established, a true mirror of his memory. From a distance, everyone will be able to read text, enlarged and limited, to the desired subject, projected on an individual screen. In this way, everyone from his armchair will be able to contemplate creation as a whole or in certain of its parts.
This encourages myself, as well as others, to continue dreaming up whatever our little minds and big dreams can muster up. It is a war cry to ignore critics, disbelievers, laggards, and cynics. In other words, this generation and those to follow should be encouraged to be imaginative and innovative. I always think to myself, “Life would be better if we had this, or, educational institutions would function better if this was available, and especially, I have so many ideas – someone needs to invent them!!”
Some ideas have taken decades to manifest into working machines with greased engines (so to speak), however with technology growing at exponentially higher rates in relation to 50 years ago, there is hope that many in current generations may not have to wait long for their ideas to blossom into inventions. Simply declaring an idea doesn’t count as being innovative, for example, someone cannot merely say, “Hey, humans should fly and we should have hover crafts!” Simply stating a futuristic idea does not make someone innovative, creative, or imaginative. If people actually develop unique, realistic ideas that can actually contribute to the betterment of society, and have an execution plan – then we can talk business. There has to be a separation or barrier between obvious generic ideas from the public with zero follow-through, and the creatively generated and functional implementations of lurking Einstein’s.
Basically, we are living in a time and age where we have the tools and knowledge readily available to develop our ideas and imaginations into living and breathing (well, maybe not breathing) technologies. It is quite possible we could see an exciting revolution unfold; a time is coming when people will tap into their strengths and understand their potential in this rapidly changing universe.
˚For those unaware of Otlet’s accomplishments, he was ahead of his time in creating a massive database of information open to the public via purchase.