According to author Kevin Kelly, just ten years ago no one--even the most forward-thinking--had any notion that the internet could become what it is today, a vast network of largely noncommercial, user-driven, ideas and information. ("Noncommercial?" you say. "You must be crazy." Well, web-commerce thrives, but as Kelly points out, early fears that the Web would be dominated by a few corporate giants have certainly not proven true. It's as easy to have a free blog or genealogy website as to sell stamps on E-Bay or buy used books on ABE.com.)
I wasn't really keeping close track of internet predictions ten years ago, but I was interested. I had put off getting email because for a long time you could only exchange email within your group, whether that was Compuserve, Prodigy, or the Well. It was in 1995 or 1996 that I finally signed up with Compuserve (by that time you could email people outside it and create your own web site), which of course was right before it lost out to AOL.
Kelly mentions the hyperlink prophet Ted Nelson and his Xanadu project. Ah yes, I remember hearing Nelson speak at a National Writers Union event in San Francisco. He was mesmerizing, although I can't say I understood everything he was getting at. It was right around the time we and the rest of the labor movement were losing the battle against NAFTA. Time flies.
Well, take a look at Kelly's article. I don't know if I buy all of his predictions, but his history and analysis are interesting.