Benjamin Rosenbaum

Comments on "Jetpack or IM?"

Did your comment show up on Lauren's blog? I just posted a comment there, and didn't see yours.

Posted by Ted at May 18, 2007 05:08 AM

It is awaiting moderation!

Moderation in all things, I always say.

Posted by Benjamin Rosenbaum at May 18, 2007 05:11 AM

The LHJ article rocked. I want one of those giant strawberries.

Posted by Lauren McLaughlin at May 18, 2007 11:11 PM

I just watched the Cornelia Brunner video, and I disagree with your conclusions, Ben.

First of all, you say "in terms of accuracy of prediction, the femme future won." But those weren't predictions, they were desires. To a certain extent, femmes have recently gotten what they wanted from technology, in the form of cellphones and IM, while butches have not. But it's not that the butches' predictions have turned out wrong; it's that their desires are harder to satisfy, because they are technically more difficult. As I mentioned on Lauren's blog, a jetpack quickly runs up against the laws of physics (assuming that you think a jetpack actually fulfills butch desires).

As for the LHJ predictions, I think many of the ones that came true qualify as butch (aerial war machines, fast trains and ships). There may have been a rise in femme technological advances in the last decade, but when you consider the entire 20th century, many -- perhaps most -- of the technological advances fulfill butch desire.

To use your criterion of whether a technology encourages us to "get very far away from one another" as opposed to bringing us together, I think a prime example is the case of private automobiles winning out over mass transit. That victory wasn't because cars were easier to build, but because people's desire for them was greater. And that example casts a very long shadow: the American landscape of highways filled with single-passenger cars is being recreated by China, the country that may be the biggest player in the 21st century.

Come to think of it, cars are precisely an example of the "bionic," body-transcending technology that (according to Brunner) is the object of butch desire. A friend of mine once said that when she drove a car, she felt like she was transformed into a superhuman being with steel skin and capable of immense speeds. I doubt anyone feels that way riding public transit. Cars are so commonplace now that if you ask butches for their technological desires, they describe something so vastly superior that it borders on the impossible. We have fulfilled butch desire nearly to the limit of physical law.

Posted by Ted at May 19, 2007 03:33 AM

Would it be too much to ask for IM _and_ a jet pack?

Posted by Haddayr at May 19, 2007 10:12 PM

I think I want a T-shirt that says "Where's my Peas As Large As Beets???"

Did y'all read Charlie Stross' recent futurism thing? I thought his point about the jetpack / rocketcar future being driven by the recent actual experience of vast increases in transportation speed and/or reliability was worth taking. As was the point about how we've probably got similar tunnel vision now due to the last few decades' advances in computation and communication.

Posted by David Moles at May 21, 2007 04:18 AM

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