Commenters on this article from 2001 predicted Tinder and Instagram

They somehow saw Dogspotting coming too

We do some weird stuff with our phones – like taking photos of our food, taking photos of other people’s dogs (that’s called Dogspotting) and swiping left on other people’s pictures. It’s the sort of thing you’d never have imagined in the early days of the new century.

Except, it turns out some people did. Today the comment section of a tech piece from 15 years ago has gone viral – it seems to have predicted many of the social media trends we most associate with the present day.

Writer Jon Wurzel published an article called “Taking pictures with your phone” for the BBC’s website, reporting on the first mobiles in Japan that had cameras. “The Sharp J-SH04 phone allows you to take sneaky shots of yourself and your friends with a tiny digital camera,” he wrote, “that is integrated into the cellphone. So what would you do with a gadget like this, particularly as it costs nearly US $500?”


None of this existed 15 years ago

The Verge argues that the idea of “sneaky” photos foresaw the kind of hidden camera shots which sometimes crop up on the internet, and more accurately, Wurzel references the cheeky selfie.

But the comments are more interesting. One user, “Lizz” predicted mobile shopping, and the ability to send and talk about photos on something like Snapchat. She said:

“I could see it being a great way of shopping for clothes on a wide scale. No longer would girls have to go in groups, they could each scout out the good outfits, send pictures, and compare prices. It would be inclusive – even if one of the gang is too ill, or busy their opinion can be sought.”

She also predicts social media bragging:

“Prove you’ve met your pop idol and send the pictures straight away.”

And she nails Tinder too:

“Set your friends up on dates and send instant pictures to potential mates.”

It’s not a BBC comments section without practical advice. This came in the form of contacting the emergency services, and is actually a really good idea. Chris Hunter wrote:

“In car accidents, you can take a photo, and send it directly to the insurance company. If you have an injury, then you can send a photo straight to NHS direct, or the ambulance men so they know what to expect. On similar lines, photo something like a fire or incident so the police know what they are dealing with before they get there.”

Worth it

Worth it

Then there’s businessman Will Meyerink, who understands the misery of being in a long distance relationship.

“A phone like this would mean that I could send back pictures of my experiences while traveling and my family could send me pictures of the children’s birthdays and other special events which I always seem to miss.”

Steven Shelley invented FaceTime and Skype.

“I would use the cameraphone to talk to people in a separate location.”

And Glenn Broadway captures Instagram, broadly.

“There’s so much I’m looking forward to photographing … grumpy commuters, clouds, sleeping dogs, minor vehicle collisions in car parks, geese, steam, have-a-go-heroes.”

On that topic, John likes dogs.

“Take pictures of friendly dogs I see when I walk around.”

As does Miles.

“I would use the camera phone to take pictures of my best friend, my dog Benson.”

They probably could have made some money out of this.