Licklider and Turkle Week 5.

The article: The Computer as a Communication Device was extremely prophetic of the reality in which we live in today. He as able to predict communication as well as people working together through “on-line interactive communities.” This article was written in 1968 while the process to create the internet began with the launch of Sputnik in 1957. For the most part the internet and even the concept of the internet was not well known, but Licklider was very aware of it and the possibilities it held.

Licklider was right in predicting face to face communication through computer, which can been seen today in many forms i.e. FaceTime, Skype and iChat. Though he did believe that this technology would be ridiculously expensive, and possibly too expensive for governments as a whole. He was also on the right tract in predicting information networks created by linking more than one computer together. Examples of this can be seen across the world in mostly all business complexes/firms.  But Licklider’s most accurate prediction in my opinion was that he believed message processing would be big in the digital world, though he did believe it would be charged similar to the way a phone has a bill.

Though Licklider had many predictions which were in the right direction, he was off in one aspect: cost. He believed that this technology would be so expensive that governments may not be able to afford it, though today we know this is not the case. But as technology improves the cost decreases and that may be what we are experiencing today.

Sherry Turkle would agree with Licklider that the internet and computer communications is and always will be growing. They both add their own opinions on this, but for the most part seem to agree. But one thing that Sherry mentioned that probably never crossed Licklider’s mind would be privacy. In todays world technology has become so advanced that individual privacy is becoming a concern. In Licklider’s time the technology was so young that there would be no way for him to see the possibility of individuals losing privacy via technology, but Turkle is very aware and very cautious about this. She fears that people are beginning to be “ok” with the potential loss of privacy which in her opinion would be a terrible thing. For the most part I do understand where she is coming from and believe her fears may go unnoticed. For our sake, I hope they do not.

One thought on “Licklider and Turkle Week 5.

  1. abbasqas

    Licklider is very prophetic about the future of computers and computer networking. Your mentioning of the “on-line interactive communities” is very poignant of the way he was able to predict the future as early as 1968. However, there is an obvious shortcoming in his prediction. He makes the heavy claim that “unemployment would disappear from the face of the earth forever.” As we know, the greatest economic downturn since the great depression occurred during the age of internet, and Licklider’s assertion is very much off-base.

    I would also nuance your observation that the high cost of providing internet communication in the late 1960s was tremendously high. Licklider acknowledged this in his article, but he also mentioned that as a market for mass production and consumption for this service develops, internet prices would decrease tremendously. He was right in this regard, because the boom in internet usage and dissemination did occur in the 1990s, and prices fell precipitously.

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