"Our goal, obviously, is to avoid getting boiled as the electronic revolution continues."
"I am not here dreaming of (or worrying about) a world in which computers have displaced the printed word, and us too. I could find no one at this conference who would predict the demise of the newspaper. No one. All saw an important place for us."
Those words come from a remarkable letter written by Robert Kaiser, then the Washington Post's newly appointed managing editor, to publisher Donald Graham following a 1992 conference on the future of digital media. Kaiser had attended the event after being invited by ill-fated Apple CEO John Sculley, flying to Japan in order to hear from the best contemporary minds in tech and publishing. In the course of his seven-page dispatch, Kaiser accurately predicts the explosion in computing power, growth of multimedia, and shift of readers to the web that would define the next 20 years of the news industry. It's a truly prescient document. (Disclosure: I interned with the Post in 2008.)
Sadly, as the quote up above suggests, what it fails to predict is the large iceberg waiting ahead for newspapers in the form of collapsing ad revenues. But don't blame Kaiser. What the letter really demonstrates is just how much harder it can be to predict the future of business and culture than the future of technology.