Saturday, March 17, 2012

From 1893, an eerily prescient view

I'm at the N.C. State University's Urban Design Forum and speaker Susan Piedmont-Palladino
just quoted a quote from the 1893, as recounted in a 1994 book by Claude S. Fisher, America Calling
The 1893 writer was envisioning what the telephone would do to life in America a century later – that is, by 1993:

"Families would live on scattered homesteads, neighbored only by people of like 'sentiment and quality,' would conduct their work electronically, and would meet one another only on ceremonial occasions."

Let's see: half-acre lots in single-family-home neighborhoods all built at the same price point, tele-commuting, and a social life that depends on private gatherings such as parties, neighborhood festivals, social club galas, and other sporadic social outings.

It's not a perfect prediction, of course, but holds more truth than many "future" predictions I've heard and read over the years. And note, it's about a communications innovation, the telephone.

For the record, I am still waiting for the jet-cars we were supposed to get by 1984, according to those Weekly Readers of my childhood.


Anonymous said...

How ironic then that the smart phone may finally lead to the death of the automobile.

Sally Thomas said...

And I'm still waiting for that car I saw illustrated in Life Magazine sometime during the sixties. The dad (of course) was sitting in the driver's seat but had swirled it toward the back. The mom, in front, was also turned toward the back seat and was serving some food on a little table which sat between the two kids (boy and girl) in the back seat and the two parents in front. Everyone (all white, naturally) seemed to be having a great time, as the car was speeding down the highway on some kind of electronic guidance system. Looked pretty cool to me.

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