So here we are in the future. 2001 may have been a year that resonated with sci-fi fans everywhere for obvious reasons, but in terms of actual futuristic shit going down, it was pretty much a disappointment. But 2010 is a different story.
Not only do graphic design geeks love the fact this year’s digits look incredibly cool typographically (or written out in full as above), we are also living in a world which has changed dramatically from the one I grew up in. At the age of 32, it’s weird to be part of the last generation that grew up entirely without the internet in a world where it’s now so prevalent.
Ok, so we don’t have the jetpacks and the flying cars, but technology has already completely transformed the way we live. It’s hard to believe that YouTube only came into existence in 2005, and remember dial-up internet? How did we cope?
In the last couple of years with laptops, wifi and handheld computers (aka smartphones) becoming commonplace, if not de rigueur, the mainstream western world is now totally, totally wired (as Mark E Smith would say).
The Geeks Shall Inherit The Earth
I’ve been described as a geek on more than one occasion, and even have the badge to prove it. But really, in a world where almost everyone uses the likes of Facebook and most have a phone that surfs the web, the only distinction I have is that I actively seek out the new stuff earlier (if I can afford to) and having lived without this kind of cool stuff for so long, fully appreciate it for the massively exciting opportunities it brings.
Everyone except the most stubborn luddite now knows that newspapers and books as we know them now are on the way out sooner rather than later, as new contraptions such as Amazon’s Kindle and other ebook readers, the aforementioned smart phones (or superphones as Google would have it) and the new Apple Tablet, bendy Skiff and numerous other products make an early bid to becoming the new way of consuming content. Ok, these overpriced gadgets may only be adopted by the technological elite for now, but where they lead, everyone else quickly follows.
The Web Is Not Enough
But as excited as I get about developments in media and technology, there’s no doubt that the world is changing in other, more fundamental and terrifying ways, specifically with the threat of climate change. All of our incredible scientific and technological progress may be for nothing, if we humans destroy the very world we have been lucky enough to inhabit. If we don’t consider this seriously now, in 2010, it could well be too late.
Even our use of the web is contributing to this destruction, with every google search and every video uploaded to YouTube using up a lot more power than we assume – it’s not limited to the minimal impact on our individual electricity bills – there are massive server farms full of computers that power our online adventuring, and it’s ultimately as unsustainable as indiscriminate air travel and petrol-fuelled cars.
Of course those who worship at the altar of progress believe we will find a technology to save us from the near-certain ecological doom of our own making, but too often their optimism is fuelled by personal/economic interest.
The Copenhagen Climate Summit of 2009 proved one thing- the politicians aren’t going to save us. And it’s been proven time after time again that they aren’t going to ‘Make Poverty History’ or ‘Give Peace a Chance’ either. These are topics so overwhelming that to consider them fully leads to a feeling of deep powerlessness and despair. No wonder those of us who live in relative prosperity bury our collective heads in the sand, turning to the quick fix of entertainment and the heavily skewed/selective 24 hour news cycle. Or booze, or drugs, or sex & porn.
Human nature can be massively positive, leading to amazing creativity, scientific and technological advancement. But our insatiable desires for more, more, more are also ultimately massively destructive. Trying to change the fundamentals of human nature may be a waste of energy, but those of us who have the luxury of free time, free choice and freedom of speech have to stop kidding ourselves and face the reality of what’s going on in the world head on.
Here, now, in 2010, as we rush headlong into the cutting edge of the future, would be the ideal time for a massive ‘pattern interrupt’ for the human species. Whilst that would take a miracle, it is surely at least possible to take a look at our own lives and ask,
“if this year was our last chance to do whatever we could to help save the world, what would we do about it?”