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Inventions from a Space Lab in Space?
January 13, 2011 4:13 AM   Subscribe

The First Decade of the Future is Behind Us: Blackberries, WikiLeaks, airport scanners, 3D televisions, robot vaccum cleaners, Microsoft Kinnect, private spaceflight and Facebook all look like sci-fi novel elements to Kyle Munkittrick.

Extended quote:
The year is 2010. America has been at war for the first decade of the 21st century and is recovering from the largest recession since the Great Depression. Air travel security uses full-body X-rays to detect weapons and bombs. The president, who is African-American, uses a wireless phone, which he keeps in his pocket, to communicate with his aides and cabinet members from anywhere in the world. This smart phone, called a “Blackberry,” allows him to access the world wide web at high speed, take pictures, and send emails.

It’s just after Christmas. The average family’s wish-list includes smart phones like the president’s “Blackberry” as well as other items like touch-screen tablet computers, robotic vacuums, and 3-D televisions. Video games can be controlled with nothing but gestures, voice commands and body movement. In the news, a rogue Australian cyberterrorist is wanted by world’s largest governments and corporations for leaking secret information over the world wide web; spaceflight has been privatized by two major companies, Virgin Galactic and SpaceX; and Time Magazine’s person of the year (and subject of an Oscar-worthy feature film) created a network, “Facebook,” which allows everyone (500 million people) to share their lives online.
posted by l33tpolicywonk (83 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Preposterous nonsense, if you ask me. I don't believe a word of it.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:33 AM on January 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Flying cars? No.

Jetpacks? Only barely.

However, the iPad is straight out of SF movies.

We are living in the future, indeed.

Yet, I have yet to be picked up by a talking-vegetable-hologram projecting bus and taken to a Future Fair... so I'm not entirely sure. Shoes for industry!
posted by hippybear at 4:38 AM on January 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


Meh, I had a mobile phone in 1995.

And it got better reception than my iphone.
posted by ciderwoman at 4:41 AM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


WikiLeaks, airport scanners, Microsoft Kinnect, and private spaceflight all happened pretty recently (in fact, Private Spaceflight isn't even really here yet)
posted by delmoi at 4:48 AM on January 13, 2011


At times, Anonymous seems even one step beyond most sci-fi authors, while simultaneously being completely mundane. Reality kinda has that effect.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:49 AM on January 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


However, the iPad is straight out of SF movies.

Out of the best SF movie.

posted by octothorpe at 4:53 AM on January 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


Yet, I have yet to be picked up by a talking-vegetable-hologram projecting bus and taken to a Future Fair... so I'm not entirely sure.

I've been to the Wall of Science, but I didn't have to take the yellow rubber line to get there. Alas.
posted by Spatch at 4:56 AM on January 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


However, the iPad is straight out of SF movies.

Of course, they often design these things to look like how movies have taught us to expect them to look. It's not really that great of a shape for the intended purpose. It's the size of a large book so you can't slip it into a pocket. Fragile and expensive so you can never put it down for fear of losing it, let alone toss it somewhere. It's like a laptop only without something to protect the screen when you aren't using it.
posted by DU at 4:58 AM on January 13, 2011 [10 favorites]


Black-berries
Wiki-Leaks
airport scanners
3D tvs
robot cleaners
and Kinect
private spaceflight
and Facebook

...we didn't start the fire...
posted by griphus at 5:01 AM on January 13, 2011 [18 favorites]


There is life imitating art way beyond just the tech toys like the iPad and nudy scanners. We'll never know how much James Bond & his villains influenced bin Laden of course, but wikileaks is straight up classic cyberpunk heroism.

There are still advancements that seem kinda inevitable though, like say military drones and maybe hippybear's hologram.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:14 AM on January 13, 2011


Word Lens is the most futuristic thing I have ever seen. (via mefi)
posted by j03 at 5:14 AM on January 13, 2011 [6 favorites]




It's not the gadget part of the future that freaks me out. It's the disturbing accuracy of almost all of the dystopian science fiction predictions simultaneously.
posted by srboisvert at 5:15 AM on January 13, 2011 [16 favorites]


If the last decade scores an 'awsome' on your sci-fi scale, I seriously suggest going straight to askme for some better sci-fi novel reccommendations. We can do better.
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:18 AM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Life imitating art: the nudy scanner was actually invented by Hergé in 1953 and first tested by Thompson and Thomson.
posted by elgilito at 5:23 AM on January 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


You know what shits me? I've just watched my first ever episode of Teen Moms (and was horrified on so many levels), and they've all got bloody iphones.

Meanwhile I'm using my daughters castoff I-don't-know-how-old Nokia.

When everyone else are using jetpacks, I'll still be driving my Hyundai. At least the streets will be empty.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 5:30 AM on January 13, 2011 [16 favorites]


A 3-D hologram of a girl chasing a ball in the middle of 22nd Street will be installed as a caution to drivers in West Vancouver to slow down. to cause drivers to swerve and strike pedestrians.

If by "The Future" you mean living in a John Brunner novel where we embrace the law of unintended consequences like a long lost brother, then yeah, this is it.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:32 AM on January 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Welcome ... to the WOOOOOORLD OF TOMORROW!
posted by kyrademon at 5:34 AM on January 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Silver angular shoulder pads or it didn't happen.
posted by vbfg at 5:42 AM on January 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


Why does facebook always get included in lists of why we're living in the future

It's not revolutionary or even very novel, it's just really popular
posted by tehloki at 6:00 AM on January 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


Why does facebook always get included in lists of why we're living in the future

Because they don't mail 1.44MB install disks to everyone all the time like they used to.
posted by DU at 6:02 AM on January 13, 2011 [12 favorites]


You know what shits me? I've just watched my first ever episode of Teen Moms (and was horrified on so many levels), and they've all got bloody iphones.

Just a side-note on Teen Moms (as well as all of MTV's "reality" programming)...MTV purposely chooses their subjects to fit their pre-defined personality profile. That all the girls had iPhones was not mere happenstance. It's a checkbox on MTV's list. Hell, it's very possible that some of the girls were given iPhones as part of their compensation for being on the show.

The adoption agency my wife works for was once contacted by MTV to see if any of their birthmoms would want to appear on their previous series of "teenage and pregnant" shows (or whatever it was called) Ultimately, MTV declined to use any of the agency's birthmoms. The implication was that none of them were the sort of trainwrecks MTV were looking for.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:16 AM on January 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


Why does facebook always get included in lists of why we're living in the future
It's not revolutionary or even very novel, it's just really popular


Farmville, obviously.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:17 AM on January 13, 2011


> Why does facebook always get included in lists of why we're living in the future
> It's not revolutionary or even very novel, it's just really popular

Have you tried explaining it to somebody from 1995?
posted by vbfg at 6:25 AM on January 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


all look like sci-fi novel elements

Maybe it's just the result of getting old, but sometime in the last two years or so I started having these moments of genuine future shock. I'll be in a bar or walking down the street or somewhere and something will catch my eye and suddenly I'll feel the future rushing at me like a gigantic holographic shark. It's a very weird kind of disorientation that I've never felt before.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:26 AM on January 13, 2011 [9 favorites]


Good work, Discover!
posted by The New Republic at 6:57 AM on January 13, 2011


Of course, they often design these things to look like how movies have taught us to expect them to look. It's not really that great of a shape for the intended purpose. It's the size of a large book so you can't slip it into a pocket. Fragile and expensive so you can never put it down for fear of losing it, let alone toss it somewhere. It's like a laptop only without something to protect the screen when you aren't using it.

Well, not to be pedantic, but the iPhone/iPod Touch are the devices that fit in your pocket with touch screens and the MacBook is the device for durability, and there are about a million protective cases for people who want to take their iPad on the road.

The way I know we're living in the future is that if you slip the iPad into this, you've just created a device that is essentially Penny's do-all book from Inspector Gadget.
posted by dflemingecon at 7:07 AM on January 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


No, Penny's book was able to do one thing that no technology currently existing can handle: Give you an image from behind the camera. (or without one?).
posted by DU at 7:21 AM on January 13, 2011


Can't. Can't handle. Why do my fingers hate contractions?
posted by DU at 7:21 AM on January 13, 2011


that's my kind of optimism. i think things are really starting to get interesting. i'm delighted to be old enough to have been pretty well-formed before any of this tech, yet still young enough to expect to see what the next 40/50 years hold.
posted by rude.boy at 7:25 AM on January 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


"History is a race between education and catastrophe. "

-HG Wells.

The Future is history yet to come.
posted by Liquidwolf at 7:35 AM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Have you tried explaining it to somebody from 1995?

Me in 2011: "So, Facebook. Most popular site on the Internet."
Me in 1995: "Yeah, what's the deal with that?"
2011: "It's basically a big yearbook. Everyone gets a page if they want one, and they can change it when they want to."
1995: "So like a .plan?"
2011: "Yeah, but in HTML. And there are photos. Also, women."
1995: "Impressive."
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:36 AM on January 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


1995: "So like a .plan?"
2011: "Yeah, but in HTML."

1995: So like http://localserver/~username?

But I still maintain you could have just said "Imagine AOL, but more obtrusive and obnoxious."
posted by DU at 7:45 AM on January 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


Me, to 1995 Harvard student:

Me: You know that book they give you freshman year, with everyones photo and contact info. And it has an index at the back so you can see all the affilitiations like clubs, House and concentration?
Harvard student: You mean the facebook?
Me: Yeah. Except it will be on the web and everyone has their own homepage like on geocities.
Me: Heck, wait two years and check out sixdegrees.com It'll basically be that. But 13 years later they'll be calling it innovative.
Harvard student: Ok. What will this thing be called.
Me: facebook.
posted by vacapinta at 7:51 AM on January 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Word Lens is the most futuristic thing I have ever seen. (via mefi)

3D printing
posted by fire&wings at 8:05 AM on January 13, 2011


Me 2010: Hey guess what old self, you know all those hot girls that won't go for you because you got cut from the football squad?
Me 1995: Yes?!
Me 2010: They're all real estate agents and pretty much doing the same thing ... but you can follow them on Facebook!
Me 1995: ... but they marry me, the accomplished Astronaut / HIV vaccine guy!
Me 2010: Um, no, so here's the thing ... they end up marrying douche bags like they used to date, and they have kids and they seem to think that their life is complete because they have a lake house and are living in the same nice neighborhoods their parents lived in.
Me 1995: So even if I'm doing far cooler things, they still won't notice me ... unless I get really, really rich ... which is going to happen right?
Me 2010: Um, well yeah that's not happening. But the Internet is super fast! Which lets you see how all those hot girls are doing that much quicker.
Me 1995: ...
Me 2010: But hey, in the future everyone downloads MP3s and people won't give you the side eye for downloading off a ratio restricted FTP site ... well those aren't around, but you get the idea.
Me 1995: So will technology help me get laid or not?
Me 2010: No, but you'll stop thinking about getting laid all the time!
Me 1995: Really?
Me 2010: No :(
Me 1995: :(
posted by geoff. at 8:22 AM on January 13, 2011 [19 favorites]


Have you ever [insert random techno-babble here]?

YOU WILL.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:22 AM on January 13, 2011


"Take it out...and snap it in two. See how big that is? That's what you'll listen to music on.

'Oh, how many songs does it hold?'

'Every song you've ever heard, or will ever hear, or will ever be written will be put on that thing.'" - Obama and Time Travel - Patton Oswalt.
posted by dflemingecon at 8:39 AM on January 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


YOU WILL.

Hey, those were pretty accurate. Except LOLphonebooths.
posted by Hlewagast at 8:45 AM on January 13, 2011


Actually, WordPerfect got me laid. Met my wife at a party where she mentioned her Wordperfect had crashed - I had a bootleg copy, one thing led to another... and we've been married 17 years.

Geekery is sexy, you just have to find the right partner!
posted by JB71 at 8:46 AM on January 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Me 2011: So, Facebook. Most popular site on the Internet.
Me 1995: Hold on a sec. I'm having trouble following you. First of all, you're speaking English and you're speaking too fast. Second, what's an Internet?
Me 2011: It's the international computer network. Like BBS-s, except everyone has it. And it's a lot faster, too.
Me 1995: Oh, wow. Does it mean I have my own BBS?
Me 2011: No, not really. You don't even have a personal homepage. You haven't even updated your blog in a long while. You're just too lazy. You do have a Facebook account, though.
Me 1995: Yeah, what's up with that?
Me 2011: You know those notebooks all the girls have? The ones you have to write stuff in, like your favourite band and stuff?
Me 1995: Yeah, but ack. Girls suck.
Me 2011: ...
Me 1995: ...
Me 2011: A-anyway, the Facebook is like those books. Except on the Internet. And everyone can write there. Not everyone can read what you wrote there, though.
Me 1995: Oh-kay. And I have one of those Facebooks?
Me 2011: Yep.
Me 1995: What for?
Me 2011: No idea, really.
posted by daniel_charms at 8:51 AM on January 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


You really think you could easily explain FB to the average man in the street in 1995? And for the response to be "meh"?

I'd agree there were plenty of tech savvy people around then, and I'd had net access for several years at that point. Now that I think of it my first meet up with people I'd only previously met online happened the year before.

But Netscape was barely a year old in 1995, the big headline grabbing IPOs were yet to happen and the greater majority of people I currently communicate with via the net (likely) were only just becoming aware of its existence then. It's not a great technology achievment, but it is something that not that long prior to '95 could only have existed in the minds of futurists.
posted by vbfg at 8:57 AM on January 13, 2011


My computer desktop, a concept that would have been almost impossible to explain to someone in the middle of the 20th century shows a photograph of a sunset taken by a robot on another planet.
posted by justkevin at 8:59 AM on January 13, 2011 [12 favorites]


Even a world with pervasive mobile phones works much differently than it did in the 1970s (or, indeed, the 80s; they had brickphones, but they weren't common enough to change social assumptions). For one, people had to be more punctual and stick to plans made in advance more back then; now they can text each other and amend plans as they go. With BlackBerries and iPhones and Google Maps and Twitter and such, the dynamics of how people go about their daily business would be unrecognisable to someone from a few decades ago.

That and the oft-mentioned fact that a lot of story/film plots are now obsolete because they depend on people not being able to contact each other easily at will. (One consequence of this: the mobile phone screen displaying "NO SIGNAL" is now a horror film cliché.)
posted by acb at 9:25 AM on January 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


More impressive news from the "future":

-AL Champion Tampa Bay Rays
-Bush's son became president. No, the other one, the drunk loser.
-Hillary Clinton ran for the Democratic nomination, and barely lost to this guy from Hawaii who was straight out of an Aaron Sorkin movie.
-Everyone's putting this crap on their hands called Purell, which they think keeps them from getting sick, even thought they're still getting sick all the time.
-You can get a full selection of organic foods, from produce to Oreos, at your local Stop & Shop, etc.
-Dick Clark is still alive.
posted by ericbop at 9:27 AM on January 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


they who controls the juice, controls the toys.
juicy toys
posted by clavdivs at 9:49 AM on January 13, 2011


I thought the president wasn't allowed to have a Blackberry.
posted by amro at 10:00 AM on January 13, 2011


a rogue Australian cyberterrorist

Ahh, so it's a fantasy piece.
posted by modernnomad at 10:08 AM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


THE FUTURE IS FUN
THE FUTURE IS FAIR
YOU MAY ALREADY HAVE WON
YOU MAY ALREADY BE THERE!!!!!!
posted by tspae at 10:13 AM on January 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


You really think you could easily explain FB to the average man in the street in 1995? And for the response to be "meh"?

I'm not sure I understand what would be so difficult about that; although I admit I'm likely not using Facebook to it's full potential. To me it still seems more or less like a slightly more open email account with pictures. I think the hard thing to explain would be its ubiquity; my 1995 self would be like "whaddya mean my Dad is on it? The guy can't operate a mouse!"
posted by Hoopo at 10:16 AM on January 13, 2011


Layar, MS Surface. Granted, the latter is being squandered a bit by being aimed at the corporate market rather than the new Samsung units being flogged to well-healed Starcraft and WOW players.
posted by rodgerd at 10:17 AM on January 13, 2011


Have you tried explaining it to somebody from 1995?

Everyone who uses Facebook is from 1995. Or 1955.
posted by byanyothername at 10:23 AM on January 13, 2011


In 1995 quite a few people, myself included, had accounts on private networks like CompuServe/AOL/GEnie that compare rather easily to Facebook.

Where I think the difficultly would come would be explaining that, no, Facebook isn't actually a direct descendant of CompuServe or something, and that in fact all those closed networks basically died out, totally driven out of business by the Internet, except now everyone is rebuilding things that look suspiciously like closed online services on top of it again.

That's the part, I think, where the person in 1995 would start wondering whether we'd all celebrated the millennium by sniffing glue.

If you just see the beginning c.1995 and the current state of the Internet, you'd naturally assume we got here in a straight line. The interesting part is in how we got here.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:54 AM on January 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


(One consequence of this: the mobile phone screen displaying "NO SIGNAL" is now a horror film cliché.)

No Signal
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:55 AM on January 13, 2011


Facebook to someone in 1995.
-------------
Its like a family tree, except with everyone you are friends with, or meet... and seemly everyone wants to be the crazy uncle that nobody wants to talk about. Also theres spam, and quizzes that people send you through it - which means they stop sending that stuff through your email - which of course is sort of good if you don't use facebook.

Facebook is a lot like geocities - except the pages load faster. Nobody is allowed to use an awesome background or puts on those animated under construction *.gifs all over their page.

Many people who use it don't know basic html commands and oddly there seems to be a whole real life / facebook life social sceene - its not just for tech school kiddies.

----------

Hell, back in '95 we were doing the same thing as chat roulette with the webcam we scraped enough cash to get our hands on - except rather than people stripping in front of us, we'd hang out with scientists from CERN.

Trust me - we'd get it. Do not think that facebook is special - its marvel is from only the dystopian sci-fi scenario where people willingly provide "the company" all of their personal information in an easily indexed and searchable database so "the company" can better serve you targeted advertisements.
posted by Nanukthedog at 11:13 AM on January 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


How has no one yet mentioned the future's greatest gift of all: The never-ending porn volcano.
posted by coolguymichael at 11:17 AM on January 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


A lot of us didn't have accounts on all the ol' Facebook predecessors. Hell, our family didn't have a personal computer in 1995. I still went to the public library to try this "Internet" thing out. I saw geocities and stuff like that, and wondered about making a webpage (I have no idea what I would have put on it). But, here's the thing people: I had no idea how to program in HTML.

So, yes, you might have been well ahead of me and people like me, but the rest of us didn't have the resources and the expertise to appreciate that which you guys have had for sometime. In addition, things like Facebook are for everybody, and the more people are on them, the more reason there is to be on them. Yes, I know some of you aren't crazy about it. I personally love having a dossier about people I know (without loud graphics and video clips that play) ready so I can tell if someone is getting married, or that I have an easy way to ask if anyone wants to go to the show tonight. Yes, it's fraught with peril, and yes, it isn't really some of you people's thing.

But it's huge for the rest of us. My Dad wasn't logging on to CompuServe back in the day . . .
posted by Lord Chancellor at 12:04 PM on January 13, 2011


WE HAVE FLYING CARS THEY'RE CALLED HELICOPTERS
posted by Tom-B at 12:09 PM on January 13, 2011


One of my favourite lines from My Romantic History is the part in the flashback where she's drunkenly phoning up her ex-boyfriend at his university halls of residence. A random student answers and then she has to describe who it is she's calling to speak to and wait for the student to find him. This pause lasts until the audience is squirming and then she breaks the fourth wall with "It was the 1990s. Do you remember this shite?"

And since some of you appear to be visiting 1995, could somebody explain to *me* about Facebook? Specifically, I would like you to explain the part where my parents have Facebook accounts and where the lure of Facebook makes them and other non-nerdy types spend more time on the internet generally. Can you emphasise the part where they are now able to Google me and see everything I said about them during the late nineties? Of course, you'll have to explain what Google is, but that will lead you nicely onto warning me how Google has made Usenet archives searchable. You might want to bring up the Wayback Machine too.

Thanks. I owe you a beer.

posted by the latin mouse at 12:19 PM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, yes, you might have been well ahead of me and people like me, but the rest of us didn't have the resources and the expertise to appreciate that which you guys have had for sometime

Oh, absolutely...I was lucky in to have had access to internet and computer stuff quite early, however I think by the same token 1995-guy would probably find certain 1995-tech impressive (provided access) in the same way he'd find Facebook impressive. Personally I'd have to put Facebook way below things like being able to access video on Youtube from a video-phone the size of a Hershey Bar while walking down the street in terms of sheer OMFGFUTURE!
posted by Hoopo at 12:24 PM on January 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't have a helicopter. Critical distinction, from my point of view.
posted by neuromodulator at 12:29 PM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why does facebook always get included in lists of why we're living in the future

It's not revolutionary or even very novel, it's just really popular


The popularity is why. Because everyone is on it, you can easily keep in touch with hundreds of friends and acquaintances, finding out what they're up to and telling them what you're up to without having to actually engage them in conversation. The internet connects the world, and facebook puts a friendly interface on it that everyone's mom is able to easily use.
posted by girih knot at 12:57 PM on January 13, 2011


I've never been impressed by anything about facebook, well except for it's inherent evil. I'm slightly impressed by how many people recognize facebooks inherent evil.

I'll be far more impressed if facebook spawns a open source p2p social networking application with strong privacy protections that finally brings solid encryption into widespread use for personal communications.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:20 PM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


How has life changed? Fully half of Seinfeld plots are rendered moot by way of today's technology. Entire episodes would be resolved in 30 seconds if they had cellphones.
posted by explosion at 1:29 PM on January 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Me 2011: So there's this website called twitter...
Me 1995: That sounds stupid.
Me 2011: It is stupid.
posted by jefbla at 2:05 PM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


You would have crashed your flying car by now.

One thing that no one has actually commented on is that we no longer have to worry about long distance in phone calls. I cannot tell you how much that would have delighted my parents when I was a teenager.

Everyone expected the future to be bigger. Instead, it keeps getting smaller. Which is actually cooler.
posted by Hactar at 2:17 PM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


> Have you tried explaining it to somebody from 1995?

It's like Friendster, but not slow, and oriented around identifying which demographic categories you belong to for the benefit of advertisers.

Oh, Friendster? Don't worry about that, it doesn't matter.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 2:58 PM on January 13, 2011


Don't forget computers that can (almost? we'll see) beat humans in a game of Jeopardy.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 3:06 PM on January 13, 2011


Yesterday:

- a vet used a microchip embedded in my cat's neck to query a databse to pull up a mobile phone number to let us know, within minutes of the event, even though we weren't at home, that he'd been hit by a car and had died

- I used a 24" colour flatscreen to have a face-to-face conversation with family a thousand miles away

- I watched a 12 year old kid living on another continent walk me through the steps needed to use a different telephone carrier's signal on a handheld, touchscreen telephone / computer combination

- while sitting on a bus, I pushed a few buttons on a book-like device and within seconds was reading a new book, delivered from the other side of the planet

- I remembered an obscure television show from my childhood that I thought my son would enjoy, and within minutes, he was watching it

- I lost a device, smaller than a stick of gum, which was capable of storing 40 shelf yards of books, and shrugged, because it was more or less disposable
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:10 PM on January 13, 2011 [16 favorites]


I had a weird moment about a year ago where I realized I had 12 touch-screen devices that I used regularly in the course of my day. Forget the me from 1995, the me from 2001 would have been blown away.
posted by lekvar at 3:27 PM on January 13, 2011


Forget the me from 1995, the me from 2001 would have been blown away

I still get a kick out of having 2 monitors and being able to drag things from 1 screen to the other.
posted by Hoopo at 4:02 PM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm really sorry about your cat, obiwanwasabi :(
posted by you're a kitty! at 5:49 PM on January 13, 2011


Thanks, you're a kitty. He was a bit of a goose, I'm afraid, so it was probably going to happen sooner or later, even in our very quiet and secluded neighbourhood. We tried to keep him and his brother as indoor cats, but they howled and scratched and carried on til we got outdoor enclosures - from which the late Soot Wookie would constantly escape, and his slightly dimmer brother would follow. We gave up chasing them, and they became outdoor cats. While his brother tends to stick close to home, I've found Jake wandering around ten houses away. We're just grateful that somebody saw it happen and took him straight to the vet, that we found out quickly (thank you, technology), and that he was in good enough nick for the kids to be able to pat him on the head. "Yes, it's like sleeping mate - no, he won't wake up, you have to say goodbye now" is probably the hardest thing I've had to tell my son, who turns four this weekend.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 6:05 PM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I watched a 12 year old kid living on another continent walk me through the steps needed to use a different telephone carrier's signal on a handheld, touchscreen telephone / computer combination

"Have you ... ever fixed your car with a television? 'Can you walk me through that? Yeah, if you move your hand ...' You will ... and AT&T will bring it to you ..."

I don't think I would have found Facebook that remarkable in '95. Facebook would've seemed a logical (if extravagant) development of Mosaic and Usenet and The Well and the personal "home pages" that were starting to populate the World Wide Web (I heard someone use that phrase the other day; fortunately they were on the radio so I could smirk at them without feeling like a dick). OTOH, YouTube, torrent sites, mp3s, streaming Netflix, wireless, flash drives, gmail, etc. would've all blown my little mid-nineties mind. Around '94 or so, I recall that a housemate of mine bought a 2 or 3 gig zip drive. I remember petting it (while watching Deep Space Nine one night), stunned to think that anyone might need that much storage space.

(À propos the "You Will" ads, it's funny that nearly every service predicted by them exists today and that AT&T provides nearly none of them. It's also charming that all the design looks like it belongs in a kind of perky, happy Blade Runner future. Maybe the future of Wild Palms or of Until the End of the World. I'm waiting for someone to bring back retro early ninties future.)
posted by octobersurprise at 6:37 PM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hoover
posted by clavdivs at 8:43 PM on January 13, 2011


I'm a complete gadget fiend--I love my iPod Touch (soon to get an iPhone when they're available on my wonderful Verizon), my Kindle, my MacBook Pro, cell phones, USB drives, wireless printers, home-built media servers, streaming video, being able to program the DirecTV recorder in my living room from campus via computer, etc. etc. ad infinitum. It is a joyful technological future we live in. Unfortunately, our sociopolitical future has gone in the opposite direction, and I'd gladly go back to landlines and typewriters if we could get rid of the crushing nightmare of hatred we're living under in the U.S. I get that the arc of the moral universe is long, but I'm not feeling it bend towards justice right now.

But hey - I can share my concerns with hundreds of thoughtful people whom I've never met, all while snuggled up in my bed, sipping hot cocoa with kahlua. And that's nothing to sneeze at. Unless you're allergic to rum.
posted by tzikeh at 11:04 PM on January 13, 2011


Meant to include my heartfelt condolences, obiwanwasabi. My cat died over the holiday week. She was 20, and I'd had her for 18 of those years. It's been very hard.
posted by tzikeh at 11:06 PM on January 13, 2011


One thing that no one has actually commented on is that we no longer have to worry about long distance in phone calls. I cannot tell you how much that would have delighted my parents when I was a teenager.

I distinctly remember that somewhere in one of the Space Odyssey books, Clarke — I'm not sure if it's fair to say "predicted," but certainly "imagined" — that the telephone companies of the world realized before the turn of the millennium that long-distance rates were a stupid idea and they could make more money without them, and just got rid of them, letting all calls suddenly be "local."

A bit naive, since I think had it not been for Ma Bell being taken to the woodshed and brought back in pieces that it would have hung onto those rates until the end of time, but the effect has been the same. 'Long distance' is basically an anachronism, at least for domestic calls, yet the telephone companies (if you include the wireless ones anyway) are more profitable than ever, and I suspect people spend more money and consume more of their services than ever.

He got the path wrong, but the endpoint right.

Still working on it for international calls, though.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:18 PM on January 13, 2011


Me 2011: So there will be this constantly updated page on your computer that all your friends (and oddly enough there will be hundreds of them) contribute to. Some of these friends will make you laugh and some of them will annoy you but luckily you'll be able to hide those ones. You'll learn about places and things you've never experienced before because these friends will be talking about them. You will never lose touch with any of these friends or watch them drop out of your life because they'll always be on this thing.

Me 1995: Fantastic.
posted by Summer at 3:22 AM on January 14, 2011


Sitting on my desk right now, I have a device that cost $129, is thinner than a paperback, has a screen that renders crystal-clear black and white type, that allows me to read books, PDF documents, and a set of articles I custom-select every week, while playing music or having those documents read aloud to me. When I turn it off, there's a rotating set of pictures of authors that keep the screen occupied.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 8:53 AM on January 14, 2011


I think the crazy thing about living in the future is the extraordinary capacity of the human mind to trivialize everything. It seems like even though technology is progressing at an exponentially increasing rate, the only people who react with the kind of astonishment one would expect from these massive leaps are the old and the technologically illiterate, who generally do so out of confusion. The average man's capacity to assimilate technological change into "how things have always been" seems to increase exponentially along with the advancement of technology. I wonder if the latter will ever outpace the former? Someday, will people who were totally with it when they were 18 will be startled and confused by the devices coming onto the market when they're 25?
posted by tehloki at 12:01 PM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


The iPad seemed inevitable and not too far off to me as a kid reading Ender's game in the '80s. The Kinect, though, I didn't expect for another couple decades. That shit is amazing.
posted by callmejay at 12:50 PM on January 14, 2011


Also, for me Skype has been the biggest "living in the future" tool. When my Dad went overseas for work in the early eighties he just dissapeared for a week or two at a time. When I went to a conference in 1999, I sat in a hotel in Brisbane with my laptop, and said goodnight to my little girl every night, and we saw each other on the screen. It was magical.
posted by rodgerd at 11:35 PM on January 14, 2011


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