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  1.  (1541.1)
    What will life be like in the year 2008? (written in 1968)

    Link from BoingBoing, but it's worth some discussion and sharing of other sources of 1960s ideas about the future.
    Ninety minutes after leaving your home, you slide beneath the dome of your destination city. Your car decelerates and heads for an outer-core office building where you’ll meet your colleagues. After you get out, the vehicle parks itself in a convenient municipal garage to await your return. Private cars are banned inside most city cores. Moving sidewalks and electrams carry the public from one location to another.
    This brings to mind the phrase "where is my fucking jetpack?"

    It would be interesting to see the equivalent now... "What will life be like in 2048?"

    I'm imagining the writer would conjure up a world that is a half Soylent Green / half Mad Max. With added population decimation by a super strength variant of Ebola.

    I don't care about jetpacks and holidays on the moon... I just want some bloody optimism back.
  2.  (1541.2)
    This blog is really awesome. Some posts categories, like "Useless technology" and "Scay" are really funny.
    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeMar 24th 2008
    On the other hand, a jetpack would be handy for avoiding ebola-zombies.

    Soylent Green, the movie, was wonderfully prescient in some ways. Sol (Edward G. Robinson) ranting about global warming, the ocean ecosystem dying off . . . the reason Soylent Corporation was harvesting protein from corpses was that the krill it had been scooping up were gone.
    • CommentTimeMar 24th 2008
    I wouldn't mind a seaweed steak right about now..
  3.  (1541.5)
    That's something I think about pretty often. If you want a contemporary optimistic view of the future I think you need to concentrate on how we might find a way to continue (and increase) the quality of life worldwide before we run out of those resources that sustain our quality if life, by changing the resources we use to fuel our progress. Where so much of the retro future was based on the wrong ideas - like vast networks of highways, and personal transportation - a revisitation of that future could be based on more sustainable models for transportation - and for everything else.

    Little gems like Dean Kamen's village-sized generators and water purification systems are a good place to start, I think.
  4.  (1541.6)
    The meal then is served on disposable plastic plates. These plates, as well as knives, forks and spoons of the same material, are so inexpensive they can be discarded after use.

    "Say, where do all these plastic items come from? And where do they go?"
    "Who the hell cares? We live in Teh Future!"


    Also: The single most important item in 2008 households is the computer. Really....
    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeMar 24th 2008
    Sustainability aside, we now think of plastic plates and cutlery as horribly tacky.

    We have disposable clothing, but it's reserved for infants and the dreadfully ill. (And people who work in the immaculately clean environs of a chip fab, and they're designed to keep the filth in.

    Washable plastic furniture is what you put on your deck if you can't afford a wrought-iron patio set.

    Processed easy-to-prepare food with miracle preservatives is what lazy slobs eat.
  5.  (1541.8)
    The real way to sustainability is durability rather than materials. Making something that is probably going to outlast it's owner. Really solid, sturdy well made furniture. Good plates where the glaze won't scratch or crack, solid metal cutlery.

    The problem with this is that it doesn't fit into consumerism though. They don't want you to keep things, they have to be thrown away and replaced. Even nappies for babies, despite being both unnecessary AND expensive. Disposable cigarette lighters, disposable pens. Disposable cameras.

    The thing I don't think they understood in the 1960s is that consumerism is not sustainable unless you get to sell disposable cheap crap over and over and over again. Then you get the problem of what to do with all the discarded crap.

    Throughout my childhood we had the same fridge, washing machine, tumble drier and vacuum cleaner. They lasted nearly twenty years. Now we are lucky to get three years out of these appliances and repair is more expensive than replacement.

    Which brings me onto household appliances managed by computers. They didn't know just how rubbish computers were going to be. My tumble drier thinks it knows when clothes are dry, it stops automatically when it's sensors detect a certain level of dryness. So when this happens I have to go and check them, usually they are still damp and I set it off going again after moving the clothes around a bit by hand.

    Computers are not here to make our lives easy. They are here to needlessly complicate them and make sure appliances are far more likely to break and need replacing. Also to sell pointless features that none of us need and will just make things more hassle.

    If we got sold what we want and need we wouldn't have to keep buying the crap they peddle at us and they'd go out of business.
    • CommentAuthorDouglas
    • CommentTimeMar 24th 2008
    I imagine this forum is familiar with Paleo-Future?

    That is a great site.

    I always enjoy when someone thinks of almost all the things the internet lets us do, but does it without the internet or a PC. TVphones were quite the idea. Very prevalent in futurism for several decades.

    The move towards disposablity is irritating and is responsible for the too much garbage problem. I'm guessing that started in the 80s? A lot of that crap is kind of hidden with "staying current" or innovations.
  6.  (1541.10)
    Disposability goes back at least as far as the 1950's, when Brooks Stevens coined the phrase planned obsolescence.

    His definition: "instilling in the buyer the desire to own something a little newer, a little better, a little sooner than is necessary."

    I like to think he would have been shocked to see his idea expanded so that products are intended to break down, making it necessary for the buyer to go get a new one not "a little sooner than is necessary", but "right now, because it's busted".

    And yep, Paleofuture is a great site, but the original poster here was asking (I think) what a contemporary optimistic view of the future might be.
    • CommentTimeMar 25th 2008
    Awesome find. Just awesome.
    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeMar 25th 2008
    Disposability goes way back father than Brook Stevens.

    "It is better to end than to mend."

    Bruce Sterling still says he's an SF author, but these days he's more likely to write stuff like this:

    Revenge of the Slow