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Analog Angle Article

OK, I admit it, I was wrong

One of the many things I dislike about today's so-called journalism is that it spends more time saying what is going to happen rather than just reporting what has happened. To me, that's just a dressed-up version of your local psychic with a crystal ball. But much as I dislike it, we all like to talk about what may happen, what will make sense, and what the future will bring. That's human nature, I guess, although I still think journalist should stick to reporting and stay away from predicting, those are very different tasks and one is not a replacement for the other.

One of the reason I dislike making predictions as a journalistic task is that there is no accountability or assessment of how good the predictions were. No need to look back, just make another prediction. Interestingly, one of the true measures of a scientific or engineering theory is not how well it explains what has been observed, but how well it predicts and explains what has not yet been postulated or observed. [See Einstein’s prediction on the deflection of light from a distant star, as the light passes the Sun as one example; note that some historians and scientists now dispute this account of his work and the experimental test, but most support it.]

So I thought it would be instructive for me confess: I too sometimes make informal predictions, and sometimes I am quite right; sometimes, I am somewhat right; and sometimes, I am not at all right. One which I was pretty wrong on was USB (Universal Serial Bus). When it was first announced, primarily as an interface between PC keyboards, mice, and other basic peripherals, all I could think was “just what we need, yet another interface standard to cause confusion.”

Skip forward to 2009, and we have 5 Gbits/sec SuperSpeed USB 3.0 coming on strong, supported by a well-defined standard. USB is the most common and low-cost way to connect many devices beyond the basic PC: phones, cameras, USB flash drives; you can add your own items to the list. There are ICs, software and protocols, tools, and validation support for USB (wired, wireless, low/medium/high-speed) from many sources. In short, USB has been a major success.

So that's my confession of a wildly wrong prediction. And what are some of yours?♦

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