Visions of the Future, from 1979, and what’s this about ‘geek’ culture? September 14, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture.
Here’s a download that may entertain, the Usborne Book of the Future from 1979. The link was included in an article in the Guardian on geek culture, of which more below.
I don’t remember the book, but I remember the style, drawn from magazines like Look and Learn and Speed & Power. I used to get the latter every week or so until it was folded into the former. Needless to say the issues went awol during my teens and then more recently I managed to get some online for next to nothing – literally next to nothing, a tenner or so for an hundred issues.
But it’s the optimism about a technological future that comes through loud and clear both in those magazines and in the Usborne book, something that has been, if not forgotten, certainly downplayed in recent decades. We’ve discussed it here before, but perhaps it was a blend of growing environmental concerns, the failure of technologies as diverse as nuclear power, aerospace and so on in high profile events and also, perhaps, more recently the proliferation of more pervasive computer, social and communications devices (though, I sometimes wonder if the younger me had I been brought through time to see the present would think the cars unbelievably futuristic, or just a bit meh).
Clearly the scan of the Usborne Book was of an used copy. Check out the carefully, well mostly carefully, additional colours added to the headings on page 4!
The link came from the Guardian and a piece on Geek culture. It suggests that we’re surrounded by ‘geek’ culture. I don’t know. I’m not so sure that’s true at all, even if one attempts to shoehorn all that the Guardian describes into a single category, I mean, was Steve Jobs, really a ‘geek’? Nate Silver? Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the TV series? Surely not (though Willow was portrayed as such, sort of kind of for a while). When a supposed category is that broad then the suspicion is that it’s not really describing anything.
Meanwhile, here’s a piece by MacWorld’s Jason Snell on his own blog on a not dissimilar topic – looking at how Isaac Asimov in a piece for the New York Times foresaw the World’s Fair of 2014.