On The Media has an a short interview with journalism professor Loren Ghiglione
, who recently wrote a paper examining whether or not science fiction writers are a good place to look for the future of journalism. Unfortunately, I can't easily find a copy of the actual paper anywhere. I believe it was put online here
, but the link to the actual file turns up a page not found, unfortunately. The interview itself is a bit short, and I actually find that it's more telling in what it doesn't include, than what it does. That is, it does point to examples of science fiction writers successfully predicting some elements of today's
media world from the past:
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Albert Robida wrote The Twentieth Century in 1887. What was his vision?
LOREN GHIGLIONE: He's the one who had the all-electric home with telephonographics, news bulletins delivered automatically through telephones, and he had wall-sized telephonoscopes, which were televisions --
- that were interactive so people could react to the news and communicate with other people who were seeing the news.
But when it comes to looking into the future today to figure out what science fiction says about the future of news... well, that comes out a lot more vague:
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Is there any prediction that struck you as more likely than another?
LOREN GHIGLIONE: Oh, I don't know what's more likely, but I am intrigued about moving beyond the handheld devices. I remember hearing somebody who'd invented the handheld device talking about implanting various devices in the human body that might take care of delivery of news and everything else. So who knows where all of this is headed?
I definitely think that there's plenty to learn from science fiction -- just look around at how many modern technologies today seem to come straight out of science fiction -- but I'm not convinced how much predictive
value such things have. Yes, they bring up all sorts of cool ideas, but many of them never actually come to pass. It's neat to cherry pick examples of science fiction that were way ahead of their time in predicting new technologies in the real world, but you can't ignore all of the predictions that did not come true (flying cars!
) in the timeframe predicted. So picking which sci-fi ideas from today will really matter to the media in the future still seems quite tricky, since there are so many (cool, unique and creative) ideas that won't actually come true.