USB 3.0: Evolutionary Principles

Don't be an extinct giant sloth
    Photo by Frankie Roberto

IT Expert Voice has a great article detailing what’s coming up with USB 3.0 and what to expect. It’s very informative and answered a few questions I had (such as backward compatibility and the nature of the cables and connectors.) A good and quick read if you’re interested in what’s coming down the pike.

The final section talks about Intel’s Light Peak as a competitor and whether USB 3.0 will have the juice to fight against it. It’s certainly a compelling discussion and it brings to mind other classic technology battles. It most closely reminds me of USB 2.0 vs FireWire. FireWire had a lot going for it, and I was in its camp thinking that it would win dominance over USB 2.0. But, as things usually seem to go, I was way off. A lot of people were. 

Why is it so hard to predict the direction of technology? I think this question is really just a part of the larger questions of trying to predict markets generally. Markets and technology work like evolution, it’s the strongest that survive and it’s not always clear what attributes make them strongest. USB 2.0 won out over FireWire for a number of reasons, some of which are obvious, and some of which are not quite clear. Even in retrospect it’s not always easy to see the factors that lead to one “species” surviving in the great marketplace of ideas while other seemingly stronger contenders fall by the wayside. 

The lesson for me is to never be too confident in backing a single horse in the race. It’s prudent to hedge those bets a bit. I’d love to just focus on one programming language or platform, but it would be a problem if that platform is pulled out from under me. I’ve known programmers who put all their eggs in one basket and never spend any time learning anything else. That may work well for them in the present, but the future is too hazy to see how that will continue to work. 

In short, I’m scared to stop learning new and different things. I don’t want to end up a dinosaur fossil in a programming museum.