Growing up in the future

When Veronique Greenwood went to college in 2004, she took a laptop with her ... and a videophone. In an engaging essay at Aeon Magazine, Greenwood writes about what it was like to grow up with a Futurist for a mom, particularly a futurist who, in retrospect, seemed to be more interested in premature technologies than in the sleek, widely adopted versions that eventually succeeded in the marketplace. Greenwood's mother loved the videophone. When Skype came along, free of dedicated hardware, she lost interest.


  1. Social networking? iPhone?
    Facebook was founded in 2004 and was not the first “social networking” site. There was myspace, and others before it, even.

    The iphone was released in 2007 and … well, it’s a smartphone which at the time had more features than other smartphones, but it was by no means the first to be able to access webpages like those of myspace or facebook.

    Now, what exactly is the connection between both events supposed to be? Granted, with the iphone, the web (and with it social networking) reached a huge mass of mobile users, but … turn this sentence around and write: “Her mom told her about social networking 2.5 years after facebook was launched, when MySpace had only 270 million users.”
    Doesn’t sound so exciting now, does it?

    EDIT: Great Zak, you could just have read the linked article and remarked that the word “mobile” was missing in the post above…

  2. I always laugh when people talk about social networking as if it didn’t exist until it showed up in the US.  

      1. Ah. That’s why I have the nagging feeling of non-existance when there’s no CNN crew in the near vicinity.

    1. And if you’re Californian, you get to narrow that down even further.

      (Must learn to reply to the right comment)

  3. I think the futurist parent might make the scenario more apparent, but being a futurist in the Luke Skywalker sense (“All his life has he looked away…to the future, to the horizon.”) has made me realize that the imagination about how the future could be is always more attractive than the reality of when the same ideas take contemporary form.The thing about futurism is that everything is a novelty. Once the innovations happen and become mainstream, no amount of their usefulness makes them as awe-inspiring as when they were just futuristic concepts. It’s like being in love with a fantasy person in your mind that you’ve associated with a living person who actually exists. The reality will not be as magical as the fantasy because you have quixotic expectations.So yeah, I’ll be buying Google Glass when it becomes affordable, and like my Android tablet, I’ll use it some and it will be useful for what it does well, but it’s nowhere near as awesome as I imagine it could be in the Gibsonesque cyberpunk fantasy I can imagine in my head.

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