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Why the Impossible Happens More Often

Is the velocity of making the impossible possible increasing?

I’ve had to persuade myself to believe in the impossible more often. In the past several decades I’ve encountered a series of ideas that I was conditioned to think were impossibilities, but which turned out to be good practical ideas. For instance, I had my doubts about the online flea market called eBay when it first came out. Pay money to a stranger selling a car you have not seen? Everything I had been taught about human nature suggested this could not work. Yet today, strangers selling automobiles is the major profit center for the very successful eBay corporation.

I thought the idea of an encyclopedia that anyone could change at any time to be a non-starter, a hopeless romantic idea with no chance of working. It seemed to go against my general understanding of human nature and group interaction. I was so wrong. Today I use Wikipedia at least once a day.

Twenty years ago if I had been paid to convince an audience of reasonable, educated people that in 20 years time we’d have street and satellite maps for the entire world on our personal hand held phone devices — for free — and with street views for many cities — I would not be able to do it. I could not have made an economic case for how this could come about “for free.” It was starkly impossible back then.

These supposed impossibilities keep happening with increased frequency.

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