Explaining the Future to the Past

Benjamin Franklin

Image via Wikipedia

Do you ever think about how people from the past would react to present day technology or culture?  I do.  I think about this ALL THE TIME.  I once spent an entire car ride from Chicago to Champaign, Illinois pretending to introduce musicians from different eras.  Yes, I realize how dorky that sounds.  Think about it, though: “Django Reinhardt, have you heard the latest track from Mr. Kanye West?  Allow me to introduce the two of you.”

It’s even crazier with technology.  Can you imagine Benjamin Franklin being dropped into the middle of my living room as I’m playing NBA 2K11 on my Xbox 360?  Literally nothing in that situation would make sense to him, including the game of basketball.  I suspect he would just instantly go insane.

Well, apparently I’m not the only one fascinated by this sort of thing, as evidenced by this flowchart from Fast Company magazine that describes the likely outcomes of attempting to explain the Internet to a 19th Century British street urchin.  It’s funny enough to be worth a click.

Starfleet Mark IX Science Tricorder Open

Image by David July via Flickr

While you’re reading that I’ll be over here thinking about how, in a lot of ways, my iPod Touch is more technologically impressive than the 24th Century tricorders from Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Again, yes, I realize how dorky that sounds.

The future, everybody!

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