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Googling the Future
Jamais Cascio, 15 Apr 05

googlezon.jpgWe regularly point to scenarios of the future crafted by businesses and other organizations. These are usually short stories of people making use of various gizmos and gadgets from Tomorrow to live their otherwise very recognizable lives. But that's often one of the biggest downfalls of these corporate scenarios -- they may show changes to the tools people use, but they rarely show the broader changes in behavior that would result. For the most part, that's to be expected -- the telephone or computer company wants you to focus on the neat new toy, not think about the new ways you'll live.

That's what's so refreshing about the "Googlezon/Epic" video (mirror 1, mirror 2) created late last year by Snarkmarketeers Robin Sloan and Matt Thompson. It's a low-tech Shockwave video (no actors or snazzy special effects, just illustrations and voice-over) set in 2014 about what happens to the world of media and news when Google buys Amazon, and people start to be able to apply social filtering to news reports. Josh Rubin at Cool Hunting found it again recently, and describes it as "...a bit... extreme, but they certainly summarize a direction many of us see on the horizon." It's not fore-ordained, but all the pieces are in place to make this future happen, just waiting for the right combination of markets, investors and interest to bring it about.

I won't spoil it too much for those of you who want to watch for yourselves (or at least read a transcript), but I will point out that it was made last year, so some of the timeline is already wrong. That's okay -- the scenario can still make sense even if the timing's a bit off and the players a bit shuffled around. What's provocative -- and plausible, because it's rooted in the present -- is the overall evolution in behavior that they describe.

Watch the video, and discuss here. What's to stop a world like this from coming about? Would we even want to stop it? How does a world like this mesh with other elements of what tomorrow might bring?

(Alex notes that he put up a QuickChange about this video in December, and Rohit mentioned it in January as part of his post about Google Video. But if you missed seeing it those two times...)

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I don't think the production was so ... extreme. I do think it's unfortunate that people in 2014 are still referred to as 'users'. Also, I might have gone a step further to 2016 when the internet is discovered to be conscious but we're not quite sure how to communicate with it.

Posted by: alex on 15 Apr 05



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