I have mentioned in the past year a favorite film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, the towering achievement of Arthur C. Clarke brought to the screen by Stanley Kubrick (Dr. Strangelove, A Clockwork Orange, etc.). (The fact that Friend & Pastor Josh Patty, a noted blogger-film-critic, ignorantly, maliciously and logomachistically bad-mouths 2001 every chance he gets is unimportant for the subject of this post, but I’m always annoyed by that and figured I'd mention it.)
There’s a lasting image I have from seeing 2001 the first time. One of the astronauts is in the carousel (where centripetal force substitutes for gravity) and has a computer screen sort of tablet in front of him. He’s reading the newspaper. He touches a story on the screen, and it blows up to readable size. I remember clearly how ethereal that seemed to me, and how seeing such a thing in the movie’s projected time frame (2001) was awfully unlikely.
Now, 40 years later: The subscription to the Times-West Virginian came up for renewal at the office. Partner JC and I are still getting used to one another’s quirks. My references to the paper guy most mornings when the paper isn’t there by 7 start out with “Dammit to Hell” and go from there, and she finds that a touch off-putting. So she suggested that we get the electronic version. (After all, the idiot doesn't exist who can get that one wet.) You guessed it, it's 2001 in action. In only 40 years. I’m not sure what I would have predicted that reality would require when I saw the concept in the 60's. We do have a great deal of infrastructure to do this: The entire Internet, the system of generating and delivering electricity, satellites, cables everywhere, and so forth. But the concept works – touch the screen, you see the story.
I’m a little sad that young people don’t think that this is a big deal.