Who’s dreaming up our future?
What do kids dream about now that we’ve got so much fantastic technology?
The other day I was thinking about how much we already take today’s technology for granted. When I was a kid growing up in the 70s I was a keen science fiction reader and used to dream about the sort of gadgets that might exist one day. I steered clear of the stuff that seemed too outrageous – flying cars and robot servants – and just used to think about the sort of things that I might realistically use…
I wanted a Walkman that could hold more than one cassette’s worth of music so I could carry all my favourite music with me.
I wanted a portable communicator that I could talk to my friends on (thanks Star Trek) and something that I could look up any piece of information on (thanks Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy).
I wanted a camera that could take more than 36 photos at a time and some way of checking the results before you wasted your money getting all those out of focus pictures printed.
I wanted a machine that could make colour copies of my favourite pictures so I could paste them up on my wall without having to cut up my comic collection.
I wanted a way of saving copies of my favourite movies so that I could watch them on TV whenever I wanted to.
Looking at the list above you’ll be forgiven for thinking that I dreamt too small. As you can see, my technological wishes have all come true and then some. Not only do these fantastic gadgets exist, they’ve become affordable to everyone. I used to run a design studio and we bought one of the first colour copiers when they became available in the 1980s. Not only did it cost tens of thousands of pounds, it also needed several men to install it and necessitated a visit from the Fraud Squad to check that we weren’t planning on setting up a counterfeit ring. Last year I bought an all-in-one colour copier, scanner and printer for £30 from Tesco’s that makes better copies…
I used to trawl around record shops trying to find older albums by the bands I liked but who even knew what their back catalogue was? Unless you had a friend who had their albums or joined their fan club (if they had one), you didn’t even know what you were looking for… Now, I can find a band’s complete discography online, preview songs, download and own them within seconds and even have new music recommended to me on the strength of what I already like. I’ve lost count of the amount of great new music I’ve discovered thanks to iTunes Genius recommendations…
Video recorders morphed into DVD, Blu-ray and PVRs and now I can download a movie and stream it around the house through the air and watch it on a TV (bigger than I ever imagined) or on a portable device when I’m on the train.
It’s more than I ever dreamt of and yet people complain that gadget A can’t play video format B or gadget C is slightly too big to fit in their pocket – whatever happened to our sense of wonder?
I suppose it’s human nature to take what we’ve got for granted but that brings me back to my original point – apart from gadget A playing all video formats and having a better battery life, what do the kids that have grown up with this stuff dream of? Is it flying cars and robot servants or faster than light travel and teleportation?
Let’s hope they’re dreaming up something better than a smaller mobile phone with better battery life – because if they’re not dreaming about it then they’re certainly not going to build it…