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Two Years Too Early
June 28, 2011 6:56 PM   Subscribe

Telex and VideoText in the United States. What 1982 thought of the internet. (via Kottke).
The report suggests that one-way and two-way home information systems, called teletext and videotex, will penetrate deeply into daily life, with an effect on society as profound as those of the automobile and commercial television earlier in this century.

It conjured a vision, at once appealing and threatening, of a style of life defined and controlled by videotex terminals throughout the house.
posted by Diablevert (21 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Interesting how their predictions came true later with home computers. I think no one really expected home computing to take off the way it did, probably because bandwidth and online time were so constrained initially that people had to entertain themselves with their desktop computers in a disconnected state most of the time.
posted by delmoi at 7:01 PM on June 28, 2011


Instead we got goatse.cx.
posted by punkfloyd at 7:02 PM on June 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


The home will double as a place of employment...

Wow!

...Home-based shopping will permit consumers to control manufacturing directly, ordering exactly what they need for ''production on demand...''

Pretty close!

...There will be a shift away from conventional workplace and school socialization. Friends, peer groups and alliances will be determined electronically, creating classes of people based on interests and skills rather than age and social class...

Amazingly prescient.

...Videotex might mean the end of the twoparty system, as networks of voters band together to support a variety of slates - maybe hundreds of them...

Well shit.
posted by theodolite at 7:03 PM on June 28, 2011 [9 favorites]


Didn't Britain have Ceefax nearly a decade before this article was published?
posted by schmod at 7:08 PM on June 28, 2011


Yeah, they definitely get fuzzier toward the end of the piece.

"The ''extended family'' might be recreated if the elderly can support themselves through electronic homework, making them more desirable to have around. "

Maybe we won't stick Granny in a home if she can pay for her keep as a phone psychic, eh kids?

This I thought was funny:

"A new profession of information ''brokers'' and ''managers'' will emerge, serving as ''gatekeepers,'' monitoring politicians and corporations and selectively releasing information to interested parties. "


Yes, Grey Lady. We call them "reporters."

I'd be interested to skim the whole thing. But not $108 interested, which is what Amazon wants to charge me.
posted by Diablevert at 7:10 PM on June 28, 2011


The ''extended family'' might be recreated if the elderly can support themselves through electronic homework, making them more desirable to have around.

The internet: transforming old people into something useful.
posted by katillathehun at 7:11 PM on June 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also remember Vannevar Bush's memex. And Ted Nelson's Project Xanadu.
posted by adoarns at 7:13 PM on June 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


France actually implemented videotext: Minitel. Don't know what the userbase is now, but when I visited Paris in the early 90s minitel numbers were ubiquitous on advertisements.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 8:01 PM on June 28, 2011


The study also predicted a much greater diversity in the American political power structure. ''Videotex might mean the end of the twoparty system, as networks of voters band together to support a variety of slates - maybe hundreds of them,'' it said.

::taps on watch and holds up to ear::

Instead, networks of non-voters band together to support a variety of reasons they don't give a shit about politics anymore as a result of too much teletext on the brain.
posted by obscurator at 8:05 PM on June 28, 2011


Actually saw a Videotext terminal like this on a tour of the city newspaper my Dad worked at, circa 1981. It was there in the room with the teletypes, a kitchen counter sized TV bolted to the ceiling, with headlines blinking. It was more a symbol of the future than anything they were actively using.
posted by bendybendy at 8:11 PM on June 28, 2011


Videotex might mean the end of the twoparty system, as networks of voters band together to support a variety of slates - maybe hundreds of them...

In a sense, this is exactly what happened. Blocs of interests and power push all the meaningful political levers in the United States, and the two parties are essentially media fronts to keep the electorate agitated and/or amused enough to go through the Constitutionally-mandated motions of representative democracy. Cf. whatever the latest shocking! leak of electronic political messages has hit the upstream press is. I stopped checking a while ago.
posted by swift at 8:16 PM on June 28, 2011


In the 2000s, there was a Teletext art gallery that actually operated on TV in the Netherlands.
posted by roll truck roll at 8:56 PM on June 28, 2011


Reading more carefully, it looks like it just operated for a few weeks in 2006.
posted by roll truck roll at 8:57 PM on June 28, 2011


I lived in England for a couple of years in the early 80s and was sad that we didn't have anything like Ceefax in the US when I came home. (I'm also mildly shocked to learn that Ceefax is still in use and will be until next year.)
posted by immlass at 8:59 PM on June 28, 2011


Just today I was collaborating on a project in realtime with a colleague in Colorado and another in Vietnam. Who'd've thunk it?

The NYT, apparently. Good call, guys.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 9:13 PM on June 28, 2011


The report was by the Institute for the Future, which still exists.

Some of their present day forecasts:

we may find that our social networks are acting directly and visibly on our individual nervous systems, and vice versa.

water stress will loom large in the coming decades... Peak ecological water will arrive at different times in different locations.

the extreme-scale response of individuals worldwide creates a viral mood of cooperation. For all kinds of institutions, there are opportunities to tap this capacity for collective positive emotion to address all the day-to-day issues that will strain our governments, corporations, and NGOs over the next decade.
posted by eye of newt at 9:55 PM on June 28, 2011


I remember going into a shop in what must have been about 1974 and giving a demonstration set with Ceefax a bit of a thrashing. Considering I was still in school uniform the assistant was amazingly patient and polite.

It used to be the best place to find cheap holidays, as well as silly jokes and other good stuff, but although it may technically still exist I think it's been moribund for very long time now (I think they attempted to move over to a digital channel, but by then the writing was obviously on the wall).
posted by Segundus at 1:26 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Don't forget Telidon!
posted by hangashore at 5:31 AM on June 29, 2011


"It conjured a vision, at once appealing and threatening, of a style of life defined and controlled by internet-connected devices throughout the house."

FTFY.
posted by clvrmnky at 6:28 AM on June 29, 2011


I'd be interested to skim the whole thing. But not $108 interested, which is what Amazon wants to charge me.

For a new copy. They have a couple of used ones for under a buck, plus postage.
posted by rory at 7:21 AM on June 29, 2011


You know, let's not shrug so quickly at that last prediction; would the Tea Party or whatever remains of the American Left survive were it not for the Grand Old Series of Tubes? It may take some time, but who knows, it might throw some fertilizer on our dying democracy.
posted by Mooseli at 7:24 AM on June 29, 2011


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