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Tech

Is then now? Future shock for millennials

Image from the film "Future Shock"
Image courtesy paleo-future.blogspot.com
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Pop the popcorn and head into the past with "Future Shock."

While researching the waning years of Orson Welles's career I came upon a documentary he narrated in 1972 called "Future Shock." 

The film is based on a popular late 1960s book by Alvin Toffler, who claims the title "futurist." How does one earn such a distinction? Sign me up! 

Essentially, future shock is a condition resulting from too much change in too short of time. It's the lack of permanence. It's a tail wind of transience that (the theory is...) undermines how we orient ourselves in the world. 

Guess what gets the blame for future shock?  Uh, technology. More specifically, rapid changes in technology that affect how we live and understand each other.

The conditions that create future shock tend to perpetuate it. The perspective of a 40 year old film proves this. As you'll see in this documentary, the technology that was thought so advanced (and overwhelming) in the early 1970s is quite quaint. In another 40 years, how will our gadgets look?

If advancement is the gospel, then everything is immediately outdated. Technically. Seems like there should be more Luddites out there. How is this relevant to the Innovation Trail? 

We're covering where the economy is headed. That involves folks who are trying any number of things to get ahead of their peers, the competition, trends, etc. In the meantime, now was once the past's future. Technology is being used every day to gain an edge, which supplies very little oxygen to permanence. And that's journalism today, too. Nothing's ever been "covered" for good. We're trying to stay up with our stories and each other and our audience. And to what end?

If we (journalists, businesspersons, media consumers) don't feel completely at home with it, is that future shock? When do we sit back and make sense of all this? It seems contemplatives needn't sign up. Something to think about.

But let's hike on...the innovation trail is blazed anew every day. And feeling overwhelmed by "future shock" is no excuse to avoid talking about its newest terrain.  

Take an hour (yeah right, I know) and check out the film on YouTube. Added bonus: it has a grainy watching-a-filmstrip-in-junior high quality. That aesthetic practically transports me back into one of strange fiberglass desks.