Matt's 2013 snapshots

Matt Jones has written some mini scenarios for the BBC about technology in 2013 and put four of them online. They aren't full-fledged scenarios, attempting to describe the complete texture of life in ten years' time, but seem to be more about showing how people will regard technologies. Eavesdropping on someone's life for a few seconds while they contemplate a future gizmo. I like the writing too, without all the exposition that drains the life from too many scenarios.

The only problem for me is that they often seem believable and unexpected. There's little to make me question my assumptions or think twice about what's possible. I think this is for two related reasons.

First, the brief was limited. Extrapolating technological trends simply isn't that interesting unless you combine them with trends from other domains and look for the unexpected consequences. Matt's scenarios do flirt with other trends, particularly the first two: teen social pressures and media branding; and increasing governmental control over populations. That these are the most interesting stories testifies to the need to think about more than just smaller, faster, more powerful technology. Having said that, so much depends on the audience. An audience of pensioners who rarely use the internet (for example) would be far more surprised by purely technological scenarios than people like Matt or myself.

Second, I'm jaded, and too familiar with this tech/net world now. When I began this site I'd often make note of progress in technologies, but rarely do these days. Incremental advances in storage, or display technology, or even robotics hardly seem worth noting, as even mainstream news sources keep us up to date with the inevitable trudge of development. With any "above ground" technology (say, reported by BBC News), it's a case of when rather than if, which is somewhat less exciting.

So, as richly textured and astonishing scenarios they occasionally lack something. But within the constrained brief they're sweet and evocative snapshots into future lives.

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