Tag Archives: science fiction

The Future of the Internet (1974)

Sci-fi authors have imaginations that go far beyond the times they live in. I often wondered why the “next best thing” in technology never really surprised or delighted me. It was fun to send messages in orange text to someone in 1991, but I was waiting for the pictures. In 1995 I patiently waited for the images to slowly upload on my screen, but I wanted it quicker, damn it! Even my first Skype experience was ho-hum.

V44 Monochrome Monitor
V44 Monochrome Monitor (still in use today)

I realized my “problem” was that I’ve been spoiled with ideas of things- yet-to-come by my consumption of science fiction. If you told me back in 1991 that I would be able to make a “video call” with someone in 2004, I would have said, “Sure! What took them so long!?” And in 2014 when you ask me about my “video phone” I will say, “Well, it’s not perfect, I still get cut off when I’m talking to my father. And sometimes there’s no sound, and sometimes it goes all digitally. Meh.”

old fashioned video phone
A Vision of a Video Phone (they only wished the connection was that clear!)

Sci-fi authors wet our appetite for future technology. Often this technology works much better in their novels that it ever will in reality!

Being able to plot the course of new gadgets in our lives is a real talent. It is said that most of the technology in Philip K. Dick’s novels have come to fruition. When I saw this little video of Arthur C. Clarke talking about the future of the internet, shot in 1974, I knew I had to share it on this blog.

Watch the video on Facebook

What he’s saying may seem obvious to us now, but even back in the 70s a lot of science and business experts did not think the computer would ever reach individual households.

“Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons.” from Popular Mechanics in 1949.

“I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won’t last out the year.”  Editor of Prentice Hall business books, 1957

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

(read more fun, terribly incorrect predictions here and here!)

So, thanks to the combo of art and science, we still patiently await new technology and strive for gadgets that will make our lives better, easier, and more enjoyable. And if we’re smart, we will re-read these old texts and notice when things are getting a little out of hand…notice when WE become the things being controlled, rather than being the controllers.

Thanks to Jonathan Culp and Cosmos Magazine for the video.

Like most blogs, This Analog Earth! is made up of research and wise knowledge gathered over the years. Here is a list of resources I got information and images from:

http://www.conrac.us/V44.htm

http://internetdebris.blogspot.ca/2011_08_01_archive.html

http://www.businessinsider.com/philip-k-dick-predictions-2014-1?op=1

http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/8-spectacularly-wrong-predictions-computers-internet/

http://www.computerworld.com/article/2492617/it-management/tech-predictions-gone-wrong.html

Advertisements

New Sci-fi for Old Souls

I’ve been getting deep into sci-fi, or more precisely, speculative fiction over the past few years. It started with Ray Bradbury (RIP) and went off into the stratosphere with known and lesser known writers (mostly from the “golden age” of the 40s and 50s). Brian W Aldiss, Alfred Bester, Octavia Butler, Henry Kuttner, J. C. Furnas, Shirley Jackson, Nalo Hopkinson… I could lock myself in a room scattered with these stories, a good vegan curry and carrot cake, and you wouldn’t see me until all were consumed.

Hollywood is coming out with better sci-fi stories these days (I’ll have you leaping to your feet shouting when I tell you, “I am not a fan of even classic Star Wars!”) A lot of the stories are taken from the classic writers. Philip K. Dick: A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report, Total Recall, The Adjustment Bureau. Richard Matheson: I Am Legend.

What works for me personally is taking space and guns out of sci-fi and inserting social commentary instead.
In my own back yard, my buddy Jim Munroe has been creating sci-fi and speculative fiction in a variety of forms including fiction, graphic novels and now films.

There’s a new wave of sci-fi made without huge budgets. By collaborating with some creative minds you can do high quality films with high quality stories.

Jim started with a movie that had seven installments directed by seven different people – Infest Wisely – where nanotechnology allowed you to do cool things like take pictures with your eyes. This no-budget sci-fi had to be very creative to get around costly special effects.

Next was Ghosts With Shit Jobs, a sci-fi with a low budget, that did put some time and money into limited special effects. The film played in 25 cities around the world thanks to a Kickstarter campaign. Unlike any Hollywood film, Jim breaks down the numbers of Ghosts With Shit Jobs for everyone to check out. It falls inline with Jim’s mandate of his organization, No Media Kings, to give resources and support to anyone interested in DIY media.

Up next is Haphead. Still in development, you can check out the trailer here.

What interests me about these films, and others in the lo-fi sci-fi movie scene is that real care is taken with the story. Not just slapping laser guns into hands of chisel faced actors, these indie films contemplate the path we are on as a society, blindingly consuming new technology. Turning our backs on the earth’s environment and each other, what will become of us in the 50 years?

Haphead is set in 2025 where former well paid silicon valley jobs are pushed into massive sweatshops. Gamers, unsatisfied with video games looking and sounding amazing, now want to literally feel the punches, throws, and rifle kick-backs. And… any skill you have in the game world transposes into the real world. Maxine takes a summer job in the so-huge-you-can-see-it-from-space electronics factory that makes the cables to plug into these gamer’s heads. She learns just how lethal the whole infrastructure is.

Sounds neat, eh? Haphead is currently in funding mode, so sign up on the home page to get early access to the whole season when it becomes available.

huge, dark sweatshop factory making electronics
Super Huge Electronics Sweatshop
supervisor keeping an eye on Maxine in sweatshop factory
Maxine’s Supervisor Keeping an Eye on Her
Maxine and supervisor dueling it out
Maxine and Supervisor Go At It