6.1 Perspective on Data and Methods

By its very nature, extrapolation depends on past behavior. Thus, any method the forecaster can use must employ information about an established trend of the technology being forecast or about the behavior of similar technologies or analogous processes (e.g., market penetration). Thus, the acquisition of reliable data is central to all extrapolation. The following sections describe Internet opportunities for gathering the requisite data.

6.1.1 Overview and Caveats

As the saying goes, “Get a life.” It's now quite possible to have a “Second Life” (Linden Research 2010). Through your avatar, you can take on a different persona and live another life, a “virtual life,” on the Internet. Your avatar can travel, attend lectures, visit museums, and even have a virtual sex life! This isn't free. If you want your avatar to dress nicely, you have to pay real money. Businesses also can have a virtual life on the Internet. For example, a watch company could offer different designs to see which might sell best to avatars in Second Life.

The growth in the number of persons signing up for Second Life from January 2006 to March 2007 was phenomenal, as shown in Figure 6.1. But Figure 6.2, which presents the growth in premium accounts, those with a higher level of service and a higher cost, shows a very different behavior.

The point here is that you must look below the surface when using data sources to make forecasts. The number of committed users of Second Life ...

Get Forecasting and Management of Technology, Second Edition now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.