The Future as seen from the Present, our Past


A blog I stumbled upon before my holidays has opened up a childhood fascination I had forgotten about. Called PaleoFuture, it catalogues many examples of what can only be described as a future that never was: corporate promotional films, advertising, conceptual sketches. You know: by 1995 we’ll all be playing golf on Mars, ‘housewives’ will have more leisure time than ever before, robots to do our washing up. They show a uniquely optimistic and self-contained view of the future as viewed from their present, our past. They tell us more about our present than the future that might be. The interesting thing about this blog though is that its catalogue stops in the 1990s. Did corporations stop producing visions of the future in 1992? Was Flowers by Alice the last vision of the future produced? Do today’s kids still borrow books like this out of their local library?

I was a big fan of the BBC’s Tomorrow’s World until I realised that none of the things they told us about so enthusiastically would ever be available in Cork in the 1980s. And I loved Spandex. When did we stop doing ‘the future’? What does the Rand Corporation do now?

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