The Future Hasn't Happened Yet
In one corner, you've got Robert Gordon claiming that American growth is over-- the greatest technological leaps happened between 1870 and 1970 and those kinds of radical changes will never happen again-- but his premise is challenged by Kevin Kelly's book The Inevitable: Understanding The 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future . . . Kelly envisions a world where we don't own much at all and instead subscribe to services-- the Netflix, Uber model-- but we do this for for everything, and we participate in "dot-Communism" and do a tremendous amount of work for free (e.g. this blog and Wikipedia) including making and placing our own advertisements and photos on the internet for micro-payments, and we live in flowing "real time" of course, where everything happens instantaneously, and most of our jobs are replaced by robots . . . and if you don't think this is possible, check out Kelly's Seven Stages of Robot Replacement (of course my job won't be replaced by a robot-- you say to yourself-- a robot couldn't possibly do what I do . . . it could do some of the things, but not everything . . . and it might break down . . . ok, it can do the routine stuff: grade papers, ask questions, check for reading comprehension . . . but I need to train it to do new stuff and teach new lessons . . . ok, it can do my stupid boring job, but that's because teaching is inhuman and should be done by robots . . . and now my new job-- designing curriculum for robots to teach is much better than my old job and pays more . . . and I'm glad that a robot could never do what I do now . . . and so on) and Kelly readily acknowledges that what will be lost in this real-time, collaborative, cybernetic, collectivist, brand-based, robotic, completely searchable future is what scholars call "literature space," the place your brain goes when you read a book . . . according to scientists, your brain goes to a different place when it is immersed in a large linear logical piece of writing-- what is traditionally known as a book-- as opposed to what Kelly calls "screening," which is using various devices to browse the loosely connected miscellany that is the web . . . but maybe in the future there will be no reason to think that long about any one subject, and it will be considered antiquated to read in that fashion, and we'll be happy wandering from idea to idea, narrative to narrative, video to audio to text to who knows, adding a bit here, taking a bit there, like digital hunter-gatherers, wandering the binary plains.