At the recent O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference, Tim O’Reilly spoke on the O’Reilly Radar — how he and his team try to identify emerging technologies of potential significance. In his talk, Tim listed the following factors:

  1. The technology is disruptive.
  2. The technology uptake is accelerating.
  3. It’s on a long term trend.
  4. Grassroots support – it’s bottom up.
  5. Inspires passion.
  6. Has deeper social implications.
  7. There’s a real need for information.
  8. Has professional practitioners.
    A possible business ecology.

A number of these factors weave together. For example, most disruptive technologies enter from below. Having grassroots support is often the result of generating passion. Having professional practitioners usually means they’ve figured out there’s a business model in there somewhere. The need for information obviously is of particular interest to a publisher like Tim.

Even though these factors weave together, Tim’s list is a darn good one for thinking about those things you see on the horizon every one in a while!

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