There was an interesting piece in the NY Times this week on Ray Kurzweil. Many of you have probably had the opportunity to see Ray present, or may have read his book, The Singularity is Near. He was the keynote at our Innovate conference last year. I have seen him present a few times in the past couple years and he is always fascinating -- even if the presentation itself changes little. You can see a streaming video version of his presentation through the TED videos, taken from his TED presentation in 2005. (The TED Videos are a great and interesting resource for ideas, by the way, if you have not checked them out, you should. Some of them are really fantastic).
Anyway, Ray's message is a very relevant one to those of use awaiting the future of digital books, or digital textbooks. The concept of exponential growth and adoption patterns of technology are both interesting and significant. Ray's predictive models in this area are among some of the best contrbutions to our understanding of technological innovation, in my opinion. I was at another event back in February, where the question was "how long until our iPod moment arrives?" That is a question I have brought up in this blog before. Kurzweil's law of accelerating returns suggests that it might be closer than we think. The concept can be best summarized in a phrase from Rich McDaniels' -- long time thought leader within the college store industry. I once heard him quip that "Sometimes it takes a long time for change to happen quickly." Essentially -- technological change starts out slowly, but once it takes off, it takes off far faster than anyone anticipates. It is sometimes a hard message to take in, but it is certainly one worth thinking about for a while. Consider it your strategic thought problem of the week.