Three Hilariously Terrible Tech Predictions

Or, how I’ve learned to be careful about dismissing new trends

Clive Thompson
7 min readJun 1


Photo by Look Up Look Down Photography on Unsplash

I write about technology a lot, so frequently people ask me: How do you predict what’s coming next?

The answer is, I don’t. Most of the time in my writing, I avoid trying to prognosticate what direction technology is going to go.

This is partly because predicting the near future is — intellectually and journalistically — a rather hollow activity. Tech pundits constantly bloviate about The Road Ahead, but nobody ever checks years later to see if they were right. The crystal-ball industry has zero accountability.

So me? I prefer generally to report on the technological present — a task where you really can be factually correct, and held to account if you’re wrong.

But there’s a whole other reason I mostly avoid predicting which technology is going to rise or fall:

In the past, wow — I’ve made some hilariously bad judgment calls. And I’ve witnessed some real doozies amongst other journalists I know.

They were so incredibly off-base that it’s made me cautious about over-confidently insisting I know where things are headed.

For the entertainment of you all — and the humiliation of myself — let me quickly sketch out two of the worst tech predictions I’ve made, with a bonus terrible one by Emily Nussbaum, my wife, who’s also a journalist!

Photo by Igor Karimov 🇺🇦 on Unsplash

1) Missing the ball on a video game that changed the field

Back in 1998 I moved to New York from Toronto, and I was working as a features writer for Shift, a Canadian high-tech magazine. (It was kind of like a Canadian Wired, but kookier.)

A few months after I arrived, I got a call from a PR woman who told me she was looking to drum up media for her new client, a small game-design studio. “They’re poised to really transform the whole world of games,” she gushed on the phone. “You know how games are mostly a nerd thing? They’re going to make a game that’s cool —…



Clive Thompson

I write 2X a week on tech, science, culture — and how those collide. Writer at NYT mag/Wired; author, “Coders”.