Thursday, July 27, 2006

The benefit of 20/20 hindsight

Amelia spotted these gems from The Macquarie History of Ideas (published 1983)

On tobacco...

The scientific discoveries linking cigarette smoking with lung cancer have had such a powerful effect on the habit of cigarette smoking that many critics are now predicting that smoking and the manufacture of tobacco will be eliminated by the year 2000.

(Somebody forgot to tell Big Tobacco.)

On computers...

In some ways computers are still in their infancy. Each year reveals some new use, such as word processing or theatre ticket tabulating. Debates are sparked concerning their usefulness and whether they are interfering in our private lives. Only time will resolve these issues; at the moment we can enjoy the efficiency they add to our daily lives.

(You could argue this is still true, but still - theatre ticket tabulating?! Sheesh!)

On the short story...

The future of the short story seems gloomy, yet its history is traceable to the remote past, and it has proved resilient. There are artists who stay with the medium, and a market, albeit reduced, for it. As an art or craft its future is then as unpredictable as any tradition seeking new relevance in the present upheaval of technological change.

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