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Entries in new york times (15)


Enjoy Your Privacy; It'll Be Gone In A Few Years (1967)

The August 17, 1967 Salina Journal (Salina, KS) ran a headline that caught my eye: "Enjoy Your Privacy; It'll Be Gone In a Few Years."

Someone from the year 2010 might look at this headline and expect to read an article with rather prescient predictions of how a vast network of computers might allow for the sharing of personal data, causing "privacy" to virtually disappear. Remember that 1967 was the same year Philco-Ford depicted some pretty spot-on predictions about the future of personal computing in a film about the year 1999...

But after reading the article it's not entirely clear to me from where they expect this invasion of privacy to be coming. Is this a fear of camera surveillance brought about by technological progress? And if so, by whom? The government? Your neighbors?

The article is reprinted from the New York Times and quotes Harry Kalven, Jr., a professor of law at the University of Chicago:

[...] by the year 2000, "man's technical inventiveness may, in terms of privacy, have turned the whole community into the equivalent of an army barracks. It may be a final ironic commentary of how bad things have become by 2000 when someone will make a fortune merely by providing, on a monthly, weekly, daily, or even hourly basis a room of one's own."

You can read the entire article -- which also includes predictions about pocket telephones, home computers and artificial moons -- at Scribd.

Previously on Paleo-Future:



The Pioneers' Centennial (1909)

Did you raise a toast to William Marconi last night? How about Robert Fulton? Not even the Wright brothers? Well, this piece in the September 26, 1909 New York Times thought you would be doing just that in twenty-oh-nine.

This fictionalized future editorial explores everything from the "aerovessels" we were to be flying to the men we would naturally still admire and adore. Excerpts from the piece appear below. You can read the entire piece here. (Marconi portrait courtesy of the Library of Congress, circa 1903)

On men that will be highly regarded in 2009:

With this year of our city, 2009, epochmaking, eramarking celebrations have come and gone - centennial exercises in honor of Henry Hudson, Robert Fulton, the Wright brothers, William Marconi, and other pioneers of last century's strides in science, industrial and otherwise.


It is the second time in our city's history that two weeks of her varied life have been given over as a mighty tribute to those men who marked the beginnings of great inventions, improvements, discoveries, and of applications which have for their result the amazing facilities for live and living afforded in this year of grace 2009.

The celebrations just ended not only mark the close of another great chapter in the history of New York; they have been an episode in the story of the universe.

On the flying machines and submarines of 2009:

In the celebration pictures we find the aerovessel, almost absent from the celebrations of 1909, crowding in upon the vision as cabs did around the old-fashioned theatre one hundred years ago. We find the aerovessel in its many forms - from the single-seated skimmer to the vast aerocruisers, of which the Martian type is perhaps the finest example - equivalent to the Dreadnaught of the ante-pax days. Also, we perceive along the sea coast and on the Hudson River a type of vessel which was not foreshadowed even at the time of the first centennial celebrations - the submarine and flying skimmer, in playfully sobriqued the "susky-marine." Of course, the gradual elimination of earth and ocean surface travel made it inevitable that the submarine aerovessel should have a monopoly of the earth and the waters under the earth. It is hardly necessary to recall the case of the last of the old steel warships, the Amerigo, which foundered in 1947 and all souls after having been split by the Flying Diver (Jupiter: 2d class: 10 v. c.) as the latter shot from the ocean bed to the air leap.

Previously on Paleo-Future:
Collier's Illustrated Future of 2001 (1901)
The Predictions of a 14 Year Old (Milwaukee Excelsior, 1901)
A Hundred Years From Now. (New York Times, 1909)



Pop Culture and the Space Age

Today's New York Times has a very interesting piece about the effect of the Space Age on popular culture.

An effect was much more than simply a spillover from the silvery streamlining of the space program. It was an increasing preoccupation with the future and technology that helped change not only the country’s look in the 1950s and ’60s, but also, in some ways, its very conception of itself, as if seen anew from space.


The architect Buckminster Fuller, one of the space age’s most ardent proselytizers, put it much more coherently in his book “Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth”: “We are all astronauts.”

See also:
Outer Space Furniture (1964)
Sincerity and the Paleo-Future
Is Futurism Dead? (New York Times, 1982)



Disney Calls Future a Thing of the Past (1997)

As I've argued before 1997 can be seen as the year that postmodern paleo-futurism went mainstream. Disney's self-aware redesign of Tomorrowland meant that mainstream American culture was out of ideas for the future.

It was as though the people at Disney were throwing up their hands and saying, "The year 2000 is just around the corner! Without flying cars we've got nothing! Check your parent's attic, there must be something cool up there!"

The most sincere and sentimental company in America had decided to simply co-opt past visions of the future.

The excerpt below is taken from a February 23, 1997 New York Times article that sums up the Tomorrowland redesign and what it meant for futurism.

''The new Tomorrowland begins with Jules Verne and ends with Buck Rogers,'' said Beth Dunlop, a Florida architecture critic who recently released a company-approved book on Disney architecture.

Tomorrowland is hardly alone. The future is growing old all over Disney's magic kingdom. From the film lot to the Epcot theme park to the real-life town that the company calls Celebration, Disney has largely given up on imagining a new future. When a story line or ride design calls for a touch of times to come, it is usually, as posters for the new Tomorrowland boast, ''the future that never was.''

The shift is profound for a company whose founder was one of postwar America's great popularizers of technology. And it is a reflection of the ennui that many Americans, at century's end, feel about the chips and bits in which they are immersed.

''We went to the Moon and all we got out of it was Teflon pans,'' said Karal Ann Marling, a professor of art history and American studies at the University of Minnesota, expressing an increasingly common attitude.

''Our goals as a people are not these pie-in-the-sky objectives that people grew up with in the 50's,'' said Professor Marling, who is the curator for a Montreal exhibit in June on Disney theme park architecture. ''They settle now for a house in the suburbs and to hell with the Moon. What's the point of building monorails if we can hardly get the car to work?''

See also:
Postmodern Paleo-Future
Article for MungBeing


In a Cashless Future, Robots Will Cook (1996)

The January 24, 1996 New York Times ran an article titled, "In A Cashless Future, Robots Will Cook." An excerpt appears below. You can read the entire article here.

It's a typical day in the year 2006. After a hectic afternoon of negotiating contracts with business partners in Hong Kong, London, Moscow and the Bronx, you step from your office and into your kitchen. What's for lunch? You press a hand on your personal diagnostic machine, and quicker then you can say Michael Jackson does Sinatra, the unit checks your blood pressure, cholesterol and weight-fat ratio and reads out your nutritional requirements. Up pops suggested menus.

Kitchen robots quietly go to work moving ingredients from a "smart" refrigerator that is built into a microwave oven. A minute later, out rolls a garden salad with dill dressing and an open-face pork-roast sandwich on wheat -- no crust. After lunch, you return to your home office to finish some business in South Africa. If you're done early, maybe you can squeeze in a movie: "Gone With the Wind" you reconfigured with Bruce Willis as Rhett Butler.

For much of human history, talk of the future was relegated to the musings of self-described prophets, astrologers, dreamers and fools. But as the world lurches toward the 21st century, futurism is being taken more seriously by more people. Experts of all stripes are studying the patterns of the past and present, trying to project tomorrow. Forecasts of what might be spill out of corporate boardrooms, government offices, magazine stands, talk shows and bookstores like a bubbly brew.

See also:
1999 A.D. (1967)
Call a Serviceman (Chicago Tribune, 1959)
Something must be wrong with its radar eye! (Chicago Tribune, 1959)
The Electronic Brain Made Beef Stew (1959)
Monsanto House of the Future (1957-1967)


Memory of 'Tomorrow' (New York Times, 1941)

Fanciful visions of the future were few and far between in the early 1940s. This article by Sidney M. Shalett, from the April 27, 1941 New York Times sums up why.

It was on a Sunday morning - the last Sunday in April - two years ago when the great World's Fair opened: April 30, 1939. In cold print the date does not seem so remote, but in two short years the rush of history, with its swift, terrible violence, has turned that brave, new World of Tomorrow into an almost forgotten legend of yesterday.

Shalett goes on to explain the sense of wonder surrounding the Futurama exhibit and the speech by President Roosevelt, officially declaring the Fair open.

Two years have passed. Vanished into limbo are the hectic days of 1939 and 1940. What history has done to the memory of the Fair the wrecking crews have done to the physical structure of the once-enchanted acres. Like the dinosaur, the Fair had to go, but maybe it shouldn't have gone so quickly. Today it is almost all gone: an empty, sad shell by day; an unbearably lonely graveyard by night.

The author ends the piece on a note of hope.

Too many memories! It is best to leave this place for a while. It will be better to return in July. Then the first units of the great Flushing Meadow Park that is to rise on the site of the Fair will be ready. Perhaps there is symbolism in that, too. Out of the wreckage of yesterday's dream of the World of Tomorrow a place of recreation, rest and beauty is being fashioned for today.

The caption to the image reads:
Where on April 30, 1939, throngs gathered "for peace and freedom," the wrecker is today finishing his work, clearing the way for a park of tomorrow.

See also:
All's Fair at the Fair (1938)


Is Futurism Dead? (New York Times, 1982)

As a follow-up to yesterday's post about the postmodern paleo-future here's an excerpt from the March 14, 1982 New York Times article, "Now and Then, Congress Also Ponders the Future."

....activity in the field [of futurism] has slowed to the point of stopping. "Actually, [futurism] died somewhere in the 1970's," said Michael Marien, the editor of "Futures Survey," a monthly abstract published by the World Future Society. "Nobody announced its death, but it happened." Mr. Marien, who has been monitoring futures literature for the past dozen years, said the flood of books on trends and forecasts is down to a trickle.

If you have a TimeSelect subscription you can read the entire article here.

See also:
Postmodern Paleo-Future