Thursday, December 31, 2009

The past of the future

Slate has an entertaining piece on Omni magazine, which makes me wish it was still publishing. I'd put up with the occasional article on UFOs to read the equivalent of William Gibson coining 'cyberspace' in 1983.

The story of Omni's decline is also worth a read. The mag's website now apparently points to Penthouse, a more enduring brainchild of Bob Guccione (although Bob Jr now owns once owned Discover).

I've never opened a copy (Of Omni, not Penthouse. Well, not of Penthouse either, actually.) but apparently it dealt in predictions of robot gardeners and moon bases. This made me think of my much-loved and recently rediscovered Usborne Book of the Future, which, published in 1979, beat Omni into print by two years.

The UBotF offered insightful analysis of future trends in transport, medicine and agriculture. Most importantly for an 8-year-old boy, it also has a picture of two spaceships blasting the crap out of each other on the cover.

A Google search suggests it has a substantial online following - not surprising, as Usborne books were a kind of precursor to the internet for geeky 70s boys. It also suggests that my hardback might be worth a bob or two.

At the end of each chapter, there's a timeline describing what will happen. We're now in 2001-2050. Some predictions weren't too great - space mirrors providing night lighting by 2000 - but others are coming along - brain impants to help stroke victims. And others were a weird mixture of bang on and cutely off. Here's one from the Future Cities chapter for 1991-2000

First deliveries of electronic mail. Hand written letters are electronically copied, sent via a satellite-link to their destination, where the incoming message is printed out.

Happy 2010.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

See my face

I've recently started working on a book about reputation. More news on that to follow.

A few weeks ago, I spoke to Adam Smallman at Dow Jones Investment Banker on that topic, relating to the financial sector. The video is up now on Don't blink twice!