To give ourselves a sense of what the world might be like next year - let alone next decade -we used iPads with pre-loaded content, collaborated on Google Wave, got our hands on 3D mobile phones and Tweeted and poked and prodded our way around all sorts of interesting topics. And, boy, it was fun.
These new technologies, these modern ways of communicating, are genuinely awesome. The clever things they enable us to do and how they change the work that gets done are mind-boggling. When you see these devices and these possibilities in the hands of really smart people (who happen to be between four and 16 years old) and then set a bunch of smart marketing people loose on them, very exciting things can happen.
I recall writing a paper in 1992 about the future of individually addressable messaging that leverages real-time, location-specific data to serve quasi-predictive marketing messages at exactly the right time and in the right place. Actually, I didn't use those words but I did make a gag or two about When Harry Met Sally and digital devices serving messages to fit just the people who chose to watch that sort of schmaltz. But I think it was close enough to count.
Anyway, that future is very nearly upon us whether we like it or not, but what of the past? Is it beyond its "sell-by date"? Has all of the good stuff of last century gone by the wayside? Are all the "traditional" media cast in the role of moribund dinosaurs about to be outplayed by the nimbler, newer mammals? I think not.
As I made my way back into London from Heathrow, I stopped and purchased a fine old-fashioned, outmoded copy of The Guardian. Sure, I had an iPad in my briefcase, but I hankered after something I could spill my tea on. I spent half an hour in Starbucks with my newspaper reading about Wayne Rooney's outbursts and BP's excuses and also took in car ads and beer ads along the way.
Once home, I picked up the mail, which included subscriptions to two monthly magazines. Again, a cup of tea and a leaf through the latest gadgets and news about photography and I was set for the day. Oh, and again, I saw ads for Sony TVs and Xperia phones, for Samsung cameras and Nikon lenses - and I wanted them all.
I also saw a skimpily clad model on the cover of Stuff magazine and felt a parasympathetic twinge that had more to do with her Leica than it did her loincloth. I then whipped out the aforementioned iPad, surfed instantaneously to www.leica-camera.de and had a new camera winging its way to me the next day. Lovely. The new and the old working beautifully together, and surely that is what it is all about. Mind you, maybe I only think that because I too am a dinosaur.