It’s time to give up on yesterday’s future
With all the fanfare normally reserved for dictators rolling into a vanquished capitol, Google held its annual developer conference in San Francisco on Wednesday.
I’m not kidding about that “dictator” vibe either, they had a catapult. Why? I do not know. But they also had a giant countdown clock that would have been right at home during the Black Plague.
The developer conference is the modern equivalent of the World’s Fair of yesteryear. Ok, technically, they still have those. But they call them Expos now and they’re mostly just concerts and boring discussions about municipal infrastructure.
At a developer conference, people are treated to the wonderous sight of watching tech nerds attempt to present their latest innovations with some kind of gravitas which inevitably results in a pile of non-functional screens and “umms.”
Everybody wants to look like Steve Jobs up there, pacing back and forth in a turtleneck that everyone is already ordering on their phone, telling people what the future is going to look like, all the while neglecting to mention the price.
So, among all the hype, all the anticipation, all the seething massive yearning to Tweet free, David Singleton, the Android director of engineering, took the stage and revealed the next great step in consumer technology: A watch.
Oh. Great. A watch that is kind of a smart phone.
You know, when people went to the old World’s Fair, they saw things like the first electric light. Now, we just get a lukewarm Dick Tracy watch.
I’m not the only one that remembers Dick Tracy, right? He was the comic strip detective in a bright yellow coat who had a curious pet monkey and a Snuffleupagus that only he could see.
I … may … have combined a few tall, yellow literary characters of yore. Whichever one of those was Dick Tracy he wore a watch that was a two-way radio.
Now, as much as I liked that Dick Tracy movie they did about 20 years ago, why would I?want a watch that I?have to speak into?
“Oh wait,” says Google, “not only does the watch have a phone built in, but it also displays text messages!”
I do not want that.
I have a nice, bright screen on my phone upon which I can both read and respond to messages, text and otherwise. And what happens after I?read a text on my watch? Do I have to type on a tiny, watch-sized keyboard? Or am I?supposed to trust the rigors of “voice to text” and bombard my friends with texts seemingly drawn from a psychology textbook on word-salad?
I don’t want a smart watch. And, I?can’t believe I’m going to say it, I don’t want a jet pack either.
Oh, how they have promised the jet pack! For decades now people have been clamoring for their own private rocket, always assuming that the technology is just around the corner.
The smart watch, the jet pack, these are all ideas of what the future will look like, from 50 years ago.
Nobody is rolling jetpacks off the assembly line any time soon, but I guarantee you the second the technology becomes viable people will be mortgaging their house for the chance to purchase these flying coffins.
Innovation is based off looking at the world the way no one else has before, not looking at sci-fi movies from the 70s and trying to recreate what they did, but with less silver jumpsuits.
Take “Star Trek,” the old one with Captain Kirk and Spock. On that show they used to use communicators that flipped open. Then, when cell phones first started to gain a market share in the 90s, Motorola released a communicator of their own that flipped up, just like on the show. They even called it the StarTAC.
Was that innovative? Not really, just a nice cell phone with a familiar look; well, familiar to the people that were buying cell phones in the mid-90s anyway.
Now, the first smart phones were innovative; the idea that the device you talk into could also be a camera and a computer was unheard of at the time.
Even high-tech food pioneer Rob Rhinehart, after creating a cheap liquid food-replacement product for the average consumer, decided to name it Soylent because he loves that movie and hates making money.
It’s time for the futurists to stop living in the past. We’re never going to make anything new and exciting if we just keep trying to make real hoverboards.
Not that I wouldn’t take a real hoverboard, because I?absolutely would.