Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Welcome to the Futro

Have you ever looked at an old person and thought - how the hell do they get on with DVDs?
It must be a nightmare getting past the page where you have to select your own language, let alone navigating the menu so that they can actually play the damn thing. They probably never get to look at the extras or enjoy the director's commentary. Bloody time. It takes away your friends and now your TV viewing.

But we forget that they've lived through an age where they've seen so many innovative and also sometimes negative changes happen, that one more couldn't possible hurt. From cars, microwaves and junkies - they've seen it all. But do they ever stop to think about when it all changed? What was the year when they noticed that all of a sudden the old ways weren't good enough anymore? That they had a video, could even set the clock and couldn't remember when it all become so natural.

Well I think it's time to take account and look around now for my generation. Our home and work lives have changed so dramatically over the last 15 years, that I think we need to catch our breathes and work out if it's all for the better. The future is happening now!

As a kid I used to love science fiction. 2000 AD, William Gibson, Blade Runner - I couldn't get enough. My head was filled with everything from cybernetics to flying surf boards. But robotic limbs and supersurfers aside, some things from my childhood's imagination and literature are happening now. We may not have robots cleaning our homes, but we do have i-pods, video phones, oyster cards, chip and pin and even sushi in the corner shops! It's the subtle changes that need to be acknowledged. They're the ones that creep up on us, so as we can't remember a time before.

Has the witty banter of the workplace lessened since email and the Internet? What did people do when they were meant to be working? I can personally remember an incident with a work experience boy, a chair and a roll of packing tape (OK I was the boy). Hell even with the Internet as standard, we think back to the dark old days before youtube and social networking sites! These innovations alone mean that, no longer will a young lad have to run the gauntlet of ringing a girls phone and risk speaking to her Dad! Before he knows anything about the young whippersnapper, his pride and joy may be ready for 2nd base before they've even gone to the under 18's night, due to the ASBO Cyrano De Bergerac seducing her through Twitter, MSN chats and texts.

There are billboards on the tube showing moving images now and interactive mirrors in pub toilets, where ads follow your eye line around when you're trying to piss. These quietly resemble the mighty hoardings as seen in Blade Runner and the animated adverts from Judge Dredd for flabb on. Although they're normally for health products now, which when placed in your favourite recreational pass times facilities - ultimately does take the piss.

I can remember wishing that my Quickshot joystick would one day free itself from it's plastic suckers, to allow me the mobility to fight whilst panicked by a particularly tense game of Zaxon. Now my Mum is serving tennis balls at the TV from the dining room via her wii in her slippers, a far cry from Sharon Stones hologram squash instructor in 'Total Recall', but progress no doubt.

But what really interests me is the way we thought some of the technologies would develop. The ones that didn't make it. Every school has email now and the pupils their own log ins and email addresses. I'm sure in 1991, we all thought that by 2009 kids would be sitting in class rooms with massive gaudy plastic virtual reality headsets on, 'flying' through Macbeth's castle whilst attending double English. Probably with their uniform replaced by a jump suit and high tops ala space camp. Philip K Dick's 'Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep' was meant to be set in 1992. He may of been a bit far ahead, but maybe Jordan or Joan Rivers could pass a replicant? I'd love to see an alternatve 2009, filled with the type of tomorrow's world rubbish we thought would happen. A bit like Marty McFly's alternative 1985 from Back to The Future 2'.

Technology aside, culturally some things have become true. Every film or book used to predict a mish mash of fashion and musical styles. It was always mixed together in some psychedelic dress sense with a screaming soundtrack of rock and dance, fused together through some electronic mincer. Too loud and noisy for the establishment to understand, yet ready for the corporations to exploit, who ultimately owned it anyway via their media platforms. Nu Rave anyone? Skins?

These are a few examples, but there are many more out there. How many have you spotted?


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