anticipating the future

In two of my classes this semester, Writing for Electronic Communities and Technologies and the Future of Writing, we spend some time thinking about mid-20th century predictions about the future of electronic technologies. We read Vannevar Bush’s (1945) "As We May Think," view Doug Englebart’s (1968) presentation that introduced the mouse, word processing, as well as many other personal computer technologies; and in WEC we read Understanding Me which is a collection of Marshall McLuhan’s speeches and interviews. Now, thanks to a brief discussion on the techrhet list, we have another text to watch and consider:

What I find fascinating about this video—from a Philco-Ford production "Year 1999 A.D."—is how the producers have attempted to transform existing technologies to function (and to a lesser extent look) as they imagine they would in the future.

Bolter (who we also read) writes about remediation as a cultural competition between or among technologies (I’ve read it so many times I have no idea if that is actually his or my words anymore) in which we see features of the old technology reified with the new. In this video, however, we see something different: a kind of anticipated remediation before the technologies or the cultures have been invented for remediation to take place. The 1960s microfilm technology, which was obviously used to project the imagines on the couples’ screens, is trying so hard to be something it is not—and the actors (including a young Wink Martindale) are trying to interact with the current technology as if it were more advanced that it was. It is too bad, as well, that though technology was to advance as such a rate by 1999 gender roles seem was to stay the same.

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