Misprints News #47 – Trying to write in the future is hard.
I had to take an entry level BCIS class at TJC back in 2003. Each school I went to required a basic “how to use computers” course to ensure you knew how to type a business letter in Microsoft Word. These machines were rocking windows 95 and some manner of Office using keyboards so tactile and clicky they’d be on eBay for thousands of dollars today. During one of the lecture sections of the class (Yes, a BCIS class separated into a lab and lecture combo for some reason.) our professor had us come up with a fake company to which we had to create a powerpoint presentation to explain what it did.
I think most people had restaurants and retail shops, I can’t remember what mine was at all. But there was one guy who came up with a really good idea which was to have a kiosk where you could select a 15 song playlist and have the machine burn it to a CD for you. This was 2003 and people were still out there buying physical CD’s or burning them from stolen songs off the internet. At the time our professor and most of the class thought it was a great idea for a business. Pay for songs you wanted and get them in hard copy as opposed to the slim selection at the time on iTunes.
Now I look back and think just how screwed this guy’s dot.com would have been had he run out that day and tried to create his musical version of Redbox. Besides all the licensing and upfront costs to have cd burner stations made, he would be toast by 2007 when the iPhone showed up and everyone started using their phones as iPods. Cars don’t come with CD players anymore, everything runs off Bluetooth from other devices that stream from the internet, another concept unheard of back then as phones didn’t exactly have the internet as we know it or huge data plans. Texting was expensive, having music play from a remote source. I think it wasn’t until around 2005-ish when I was able to get the Razer phone which had the option of internet and email but the plan was still too expensive to actually buy.
The problem that I’ve run into when writing for a future setting is that I only have the technology available to me at this point in time as a reference. My cyberpunk story is set around 2060, just far enough ahead that most of what we use might still be relevant but some big things will be obsolete. Will people still use a desktop computer? Will they still have cell phones? Will people be allowed to drive or own their own cars? Some of these things have been played with in my short stories done back in November. The same timeframe is being used, just not in the US and the characters are different. People having automatic driving electric cars, a cashless economy, and a more invasive government are just a few that appear in them. I can sit all day and read nonsense about 5g and magical new battery technologies. They can 3d print all kinds of stuff in more ways than before. However, in only 30 years time we won’t exactly have autonomous metallic humanoid servant robots wandering around. Amazon will need more time to create a personal C-3PO for everyone if they’re still around then.
Remember, the big companies around today might not be there in a few decades. Huge cities can economically collapse, natural disasters can wipe out towns, and wars can cut up countries very quickly. What if Detroit makes a comeback by 2060? What if you need a license to own a domain and website? What if my book sounds crazy in 30 years because people are still using cars and cell phones? For some stuff, I just have to go with it knowing it probably won’t come true. Anything political or geographical can’t easily be guessed so those things are easier to suspend disbelief with. It is speculative fiction anyway, half the fun is saying “what if?” and then going along for the ride.
This week I’ve been able to sit and work out more of the outline to the new story. There have been several kinks to work out as most of the action results in something logical and boring happening afterwards. Nothing a few nights of reworking it won’t fix.
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Jetlinks: Friday 22 2019
- Credit card sized arcade games with a screen so small you’ll need a new Rx for your glasses after a month. (Gizmodo)
- A Dutch group creates a sustainable firmware for conference badges using the ESP32. (Hackaday)
- Apparently, Spotify bought up a bunch of Podcast distribution companies so hopefully, soon you won’t have to download them anymore. (Techcrunch)
- It’s interesting that many of the oldest restaurants are fairly new thanks to wars and massive fires. (Altas Obscura)
Also of note, the old website should go dark starting today. It will be another month or so before I can afford to get my url mapped over here.