AT&T's 1993 "You Will" ads, the rightest wrong things ever predicted about the internet

In 1993, AT&T ran a series of ads trumpeting the future of the internet, called "You Will."

These ads depicted people doing stuff that was fundamentally normal, but made exotic because they were doing it over a 128k bonded ISDN pair provided by AT&T: tucking in their kids, attending meetings, getting medical advice, using self-serve kiosks at the DMV, etc.

The ads are infamous in their own way, first because they were beautifully executed, and second because AT&T managed to predict a bunch of technologies without making any significant inroads in supplying those technologies (part of the reason AT&T is so anxious to kill Net Neutrality is that it failed to out-compete the companies that provided services over its wires, and so now it wants to exact a tax from them instead of trying to make things that people want).

That's right, as far as it goes, but there is another way in which these so-right ads were so, so wrong: they predicted that the major impact of technology would be to make us more normal, not weirder: that teleconferencing would allow nuclear families to remain in touch even when separated by distance, but not that networks would allow polyamorous people to discretely meet one another and form amorphous, blended families. That we'd have videoconference board-meetings, but not that we'd galvanize political opposition by livestreaming police brutality. That we'd have smart-watches but not that we'd have hardware hackers creating free/open laptops from the bootloader up to root out monopolism and surveillance.

I dropped out of four undergraduate programs, and the last university I didn't graduate from was the University of Waterloo, where I had submitted a thesis proposal for the Interdisciplinary Studies program that was grounded in this idea: that the predictions everyone made about the internet were about how much normal we were going to get, but that all the early evidence was that we were about to get way, way weirder, for better and for worse. It was 1993, and these ads were the impetus for the proposal. The university turned down my proposal, I took a job programming multimedia CD ROMs for Voyager, and never looked back.