I’ve been trying to get round to this one for a while – but it’s too big for a single post etc.
For a while now I’ve been interested in predictions from yesteryear… and how clangingly wrong they tend to be. Although I’ve got this vague theory that “everything comes true in the end, but hardly ever in the way you think”… almost everything turns out to be flat wrong – one of my favourites is a 70s sci fi program called UFO – which has sexy space chicks, and people drink at work and everyone seems to smoke all the time:
One of the things I like best about it is the way the main guy still uses a sliderule. There was simply no concept of calculators yet. 10 years after this program was made, I had a calculator on a watch.
Recently William Gibson said that he was no longer going to write Science Fiction, because things are no longer stable enough to make reasonable predictions… which is kindof fair enough, but then he was pretty good at it.
Other people not so much… in fact there seems to be an entire industry based around designing things that are never going to be made. Watches, usually, but often there are bikes and submarines etc… weapons… all the same obsessions that gripped people 150 years ago. Some of these are really quite amazing…
… but they ain’t real, and they ain’t ever going to be made, although maybe they serve as some sort of market-research… the comments often fill up with “where can I buy these”. Well, for the watches. Maybe it’s “directional” like fashion sometimes is… or maybe it’s just a celebration of bright ideas… or maybe it’s cynically selling advertising by flashing impossible products in front of a people who have so massively bought into inbuilt obsolescence that they’ve literally sold their futures to buy a present that will already be out of date before they’ve even unwrapped it… in fact aren’t Star-Wars figurines worth more if they’re still in the packaging?
The Future. There’s a lot of it about – and it’s almost always wrong… usually because people miss the social ramifications and powerful catalyst-technologies like cell-phones or contraceptives.
Anyway, there it is. Paleo-futurism part one.