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Entries in microsoft (5)

Thursday
Mar292007

The Road Ahead: Future of Police Work (1995)

Now that we've seen what the classroom of the future and the home of the future look like, let's take a look at police investigations of the future. The video below is from the CD-ROM included in the 1995 Bill Gates book The Road Ahead.

With video monitors in cars and wireless "wallet PCs" the most hilariously paleo-futuristic thing about this video is the huge audio recording device he plops down on the desk.

See also:
The Road Ahead: Future Classroom (1995)
The Road Ahead: Future Homes (1995)
Bill Gates on Charlie Rose (1996)
Jet Flying Belt is Devised to Carry Man for Miles (New York Times, 1968)

Friday
Mar232007

Bill Gates on Charlie Rose (1996)

Remember Interactive Television? Neither do I.

I found a great 1996 Charlie Rose interview with Bill Gates. In 1996 they were already talking about the failure of interactive TV. You can cut to that part of the interview here.

On a related note, while the Apple TV looks pretty cool, it's still a ways off from a product I'd be willing to pay $300 for and is nowhere near interactive. Where's the backwards compatibility? Why can't I sit in bed watching cable news or HBO on my laptop? These fundamentals need to be worked on before I invest in television again.

See also:
The Road Ahead: Future Homes (1995) 15 March 2007

Thursday
Mar152007

The Road Ahead: Future Homes (1995)

We already saw what the classroom of the future would look like. Let's take a look into the home of the future. The 1995 book The Road Ahead by Bill Gates included a CD-ROM with video of just such a look.

"The interactive hit, Jurassic Park 6.1" may be my favorite line of the entire video.

See also:
The Road Ahead: Future Classroom (1995) 13 March 2007

Tuesday
Mar132007

The Road Ahead: Future Classroom (1995)

The 1995 book The Road Ahead by Bill Gates included a CD-ROM with video of what the classroom of the future would look like.

The paleo-future of 1995 is filled with ethnically diverse students academically engaged by the high-tech presentations of their fellow classmates. The teacher brings the class to attention by telling them to "get off the net." Every child has a diverse array of technology at their disposal. The keyboard Mr. Ballard uses is the most confusing of the supposed advances we see in the video.

(Is it just me or was "Mr. Ballard's" presentation completely devoid of useful information?)

A special thanks to Valleywag, who inspired the search for this paleo-futuristic video.

Monday
Feb052007

The Most Well-Documented Lives in History

Today we have two men that are either geniuses or completely crazy. While that fine line is usually difficult to discern in any worthwhile endeavor it is especially difficult in the context of futurism.

We begin with Richard Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983), perhaps most famous for inventing the geodesic dome. What may be most compelling about the man was his fascination with documenting his own life. Stanford University Libraries acquired Fuller's archives in 1999. In what is called the Dymaxion Chronofile, Fuller was obsessive about documenting everything that happened to him.

Started in 1917, the Chronofile was "a massive scrapbook that included copies of all his incoming and outgoing correspondence, newspaper clippings, notes and sketches and even dry cleaning bills." Fuller continued the Chronofile until his death in 1983 at which time he had created/accumulated 270 linear feet of documentation.

Our next madman/genius does not measure his life in linear feet, but rather gigabytes. 72-year old Microsoft researcher Gordon Bell uses the custom-designed software MyLifeBits to document every piece of his life. He has a camera that hangs from his neck which takes a picture every 60 seconds, a scanner which digitizes all his paper documents, a modified phone tap for phone calls, and a digital audio recorder for constant everyday conversational recording.

The November, 2006 issue of Fast Company even had him on the cover and did a pretty incredible piece on his crazy endeavor. At the end of the day I tend to side with skeptics in the article that argue, "forgetting is how we make sense of life."

There needs to be some kind of balance. I value my photographs above all my other possessions on earth. It scares me that a single fire could wipe out all of my negatives from 1998-2002 and a couple hard drive malfunctions could erase all of my digital photos I haven't stored on Flickr. The fragility of memory makes these things valuable to me. If I had a massive database that cataloged every image I saw in 60 second intervals I would probably lose attatchment to the images that document my life on a far less frequent basis.

Where does that leave the lives of others and the documents we cherish? I value the single photograph I have of my great-great grandparents from Slovenia but I would love to see what their day-to-day lives were like. Again, I truly believe balance is the key. Balanced or not, Fuller and Bell may give us a sneak peek into the future of memory.

-Matt

If you're looking for more information on Buckminster Fuller:
To my amazement, Stanford University has an audio-visual collection online about Fuller as well. You will have to register (for free) but I would suggest checking it out if you get a chance.