Retro futurology

old-computer.jpg

(the image shows how the 2004 home computer was seen in the fifties. EDIT: I know today that this an hoax)

10 years ago, friends offered me a book about the future, written by a french advertising guru called Jacques Séguéla, very iconic figure of the french eighties. 10 years after, the book (“le futur a de l’avenir”) is pretty funny to read.

The book compiles projections of real futurologists, personal wild predictions and apocalyptic visions about the internet. Among those the firm belief of the author that speech to fax technology, the e-book, the encyclopedies on CR-ROM were some of the technologies of the future.

But my point is not to make fun of a wanabe-futurologist (some predictions even became true). The book is just 10 years old and it’s a nice testimony of the myths and the fears towards a deregulated media without structure, central intelligence and boundaries. Among the fears, Séguéla was affraid of the lack of centralized intelligence of the information and didn’t believed in a future of the web without international laws and an internet police chasing the “info-delinquents”. Among the myths, the fact that every computer would soon be equiped with a chipcard reader to avoid anonymity.

I almost forgot how naive I was in 1997 regarding the web. In my office, there was a room with a computer connected to the internet (with a pstn connection, of course). Internet wasn’t free, msn.com was looking like this, Yahoo was proposing a very innovating website, and we were still talking about information highways and online advertising was just starting. We felt that something was going on but it was still very vague. And sometimes I feel that some advertisers are still at that stage. Can we take the wayback machine and bring them back to the present?

5 Responses to “Retro futurology”

  1. Denis Says:

    If you like the Paleo Future or Retro Futurology (the canonical word has to be defined) this blog worths a reading : http://paleo-future.blogspot.com/

  2. General Pattern Says:

    Great, that’s THE site I was looking for🙂

  3. Busted! Shame on me! « Bad idea, indeed Says:

    […] posted last tuesday an entry on retro-futurology. I wanted to play the smartass by adding a picture of a 1954 prototype of the 2004 home computer. […]

  4. Reginaldo Says:

    The gurus in fifties were very good futurologists! Look that steering wheel: How about a Need For Speed Underground match?

  5. Kelly Jones Says:

    That photo is a hoax. The screen is a floor model TV. Look here: http://www.snopes.com/inboxer/hoaxes/computer.asp

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