This week we lost David Bowie, one of mankind’s greatest artists and arguably the coolest human being that has ever lived. Bowie excelled in decade after decade as a musician, artist, actor and all-round icon. In fact, to list his accomplishments would require more storage space than this entire website has. But there is another achievement we can now add to his endless list – precisely predicting what the internet would become – in 2000.
In an interview with the BBC, Bowie said that, when it comes to the internet:
‘We haven’t even seen the tip of the iceberg.’
‘The potential of what the internet is going to do to society – both good and bad – is unimaginable. We’re on the cusp of something exhilarating and terrifying.’
When the interviewer scoffed at this and asked if the internet is not just simply a ‘tool’ or ‘delivery system’, Bowie couldn’t disagree more, and this is where his predictions start becoming incredibly accurate:
“I’m talking about the context and the state of content is going to be so different to anything we can envisage at the moment … where the interplay between the user and the provider will be so in simpatico that it’s going to crash our ideas of what mediums are all about.”
He then concludes that the 21st Century is going to not be about black and white, but:
“The grey space in the middle.”
When we look the state of the internet now, we can see that this is spot-on. Nothing is black and white anymore. It’s not like the past where someone would create something and the audience would simply receive it. Now, in the age of comments and shares and social media, everything has become grey. We have become more collaborative and interpersonal than ever.
For those of you who may be too young to understand the significance of this, you need to understand that the internet was beyond primitive in 2000. Google was only created in late 1998 – and YouTube (which at the time was revolutionary) was another six years away from being created. Bowie predicting the capabilities of the Internet in ’99 is like a caveman looking at a piece of metal and saying ‘one day people will make smartphones out of that.’ It’s also incredible to hear Bowie literally use the word ‘content’, over a decade before the age of content that we live in now. It’s all just another example of David Bowie being lightyears ahead of the rest of us. He will be sorely missed.