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All these things I've Done...

Over the weekend, whilst I was laid up, i worked my way through Halting State, a near future SF novel by Charles Stross. It's very much in the style of a noir-thriller with cyberspace trimmings as originally launched upon the world by William Gibson in the seminal SF cyberpunk novel Neuromancer. Anyway, some of the discussion with the author at the end of the book set me thinking. Stross made an aside about how, by setting the novel in 2012 onwards, he could easily have characters who have never known a world without You Tube and MySpace, Facebook and GPS. I latched onto this, and starting thinking. On Monday, Nathan was playing with my dad and I before going to bed, and I started to think about the gulf in assumptions between my father's birth in 1941, mine in 1971, and Nathan's in 2007.

When my dad was born, assumptions were thus;

*The high end power technology was oil fired, and fast propulsion was via propeller driven aircraft (soon to be obsolete).
*Fast mass transport was by rail or ship.
*High end communication was radio (I'm too lazy to check if FM was deployed yet), and the telegram and telephone happily co-existed. Early black & white TV existed, but had been switched off during the war.
*Early computers were being born in Bletchley park to crack the Enigma and other codes.
*Theoretical nuclear power and weapons designs were in development.
*Spaceflight had not yet been achieved.
*Slide-rules and log tables are common.
*B&W film was the norm, and mass market photography was starting to be established

When I was born, assumptions had changed further:

*High end power technology was nuclear fission, with experimental fusion and fast reactors.
*Fast propulsion is by turbofan (aircraft) and jet (military).
*Fast mass transport is by car (petrol or diesel) or aircraft (and rail if you are on mainland Europe).
*High end communication is still radio, but phones have become ubiquitous. Telegram is dying. The first versions of what will become the internet are being developed by the military.
*Colour TV is about to be rolled out.
*Computers were mainframes or min-systems, with dumb terminals.
*Nuclear power is used globally, and weapons are causing tension between East and West.
*Man had landed on the moon, and NASA was working on a re-usable launcher (The Shuttle).
*LED electronic calculators had appeared, some with the tables in log books included.
*35mm film technology was the most common form of photography.

So, what did Nathan arrive to?
*High end power technology is nuclear fission, with experimental fusion and fast reactors. The use of renewables is increasing again.
*Fast propulsion is by turbofan (aircraft) and jet (military). Hybrid power-trains are being deployed on cars.
*Fast mass transport is by car (petrol or diesel) or aircraft (and rail if you are on mainland Europe).
*High end communication is still radio, but digital mobile phones have become ubiquitous and starting to challenge the landline network. The internet is everywhere, and also threatening to merge data and voice services through VOIP such as Skype.
*Colour TV is ubiquitous, and digital transmissions are becoming commonplace. Higher definition standards are being developed and the CRT is dying.
*Computers are commonplace, and laptops are becoming the preferred format. Convergence is occurring with a number of digital devices such as cameras, phones, laptops, PDAs...
*Nuclear power is in decline.
*The Shuttle is close to the end of its life with no defined replacement identified. The International Space Station is the main focus of manned space-flight, and long range observations by Hubble and probes are the focus for unmanned flight.
*Satellite navigation is now common.
*Digital photography is now the norm.

Some changes there!