Once in a while, now that I’m (at least temporarily) back in the “drop in to public library, get 3 or 4 books, read, repeat” mode, I like to pick up future-related books…sometimes, the older the better. They’re amusing, once in a while even worth commenting on. The more assured the projections, usually, the worse they are. (And, depending on the authors, I’m reminded that:
Once a guru, always a guru, even if you’re always wrong
a lesson useful for mere mortals, I guess.)
I just finished reading a 1998 book, by a professor who used to be a journalist, on the future of news and information. I won’t give the title because…well, it was just disappointing.
Not because the short-term predictions were, in some cases, wildly off the mark. That part I expected. (Hey, look, Microsoft’s now a media mogul thanks to MSNBC, and Microsoft Sidewalk is major competition for local papers… Anyone remember Microsoft Sidewalk? And, of course, AOL rules them all.)
No. It was disappointing because it was sloppy–sloppy research, sloppy writing, sloppy assumptions. I don’t know why I didn’t apply Nancy Pearl’s rule and stop at page 37 (you know the rule: Give a book 100 pages minus your age to see whether it’s worth continuing). Maybe it was just annoying enough that I kept reading in the hopes it would improve.
It’s from a university press, no less.
Ah well. Next comes science fiction, and it’s one I can pretty much count on liking–one of James White’s “Sector General” novels. I remember some novellas from long ago…