…Futurism, like evolution, needs to be malliable and adaptable. But more importantly it needs to BE. Having some form of forward-thing running in the cultural background, even if it’s the often silly consensus-future of 50 years ago, is a requirement for a healthy society.
Unfortunately what we have today is a microfuturism spurned on by consumerism. What will the next gadget be, or how will next year’s applets work.
There are still bright beacons of true futurism visible, you just have to go through a lot of crap to find them
This echo’s with something I wrote a while ago:
Instead, do we just become consumers for the latest updated gizmo? Life in perpetual beta? Bruce Sterling recently said (in his SALT lecture) that SF doesn’t need to posit future technologies, that that role is taken by gizmo magazines/blogs but focus on how it feels to live with them.
…The failure of modernism, i.e. the industrial era, to produce the shiny world of the Carousel of Tomorrow can be linked to postmodernism’s exposure of the fallibility of technological society.
What is interesting is that there are two brands of optimistic futurism right now that get different reactions:
1) Technology will save us. This gets pushed around by conservative institutes who believe we can overcome all the horrid things the industrial era has done to the planet. But it also gets support from the Greens who believe a little too heavy-handedly that green technology will solve all of our problems.
2) The Internet will save us. Wired mag and the Internet pundits rave about the delights and revolutionary transformations on the way from network technology.
The odd thing is that if you are in category #1 then your optimism is overtly ridiculed as being a throwback to a naive futurism, but if you are in category #2 you can still get taken seriously by an awful lot of folks.
The Carousel of Progress plays a big role in Cory‘s new novella, ‘There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow/Now is the Best Time of Your Life’ that he’s been podcasting as he writes it. As he describes it:
It’s a long, weird adventure story about the failure of futurism and the difference between “progress” and “change,” all about immortal children stalking the bones of ruined cities in lethal mechas.
And there’s a great section in it where one of the characters elaborates on this. If I could spawn a clone to re-listen to the three plus hours he’s put up so far, I’d have a lovely cut of the audio to listen to right -here-. Maybe someone will leave some timings for it in the comments?!
UPDATE!!! thanks to Mr Cory Doctorow himself, here’s the text:
I lived in the future that they were talking about in the ride, but we didn’t have “progress” anymore. We’d outgrown progress. What we had was change. Things changed whenever anyone wanted to change them: design and launch a fleet of wumpuses, or figure out a way to put an emotional antenna in your head, or create a fleet of killer robots, or invent immortality, or gengineer your goats to give silk. Just do it. It’ll catch on, or it won’t. Maybe it’ll catch itself on. Then the world is…different. Then someone else changes it.
The status quo doesn’t protect itself, it needs defending if it’s going to stay put. The problem is that technology gives more of an advantage to an attacker than to a defender. A defender needs to mount a perfect defense. An attacker needs to find one hole in the defense. So once technology gets going, anything can be knocked down — evil doesn’t stand — but nothing much can be erected in its place