DANCING WITH THE PROGNOSTICATORS
I heard a report recently that some telephone companies are going to stop printing the white pages of the telephone book. The news came as surprise. How are people to find each other without the white pages?
Some of you may be snickering. If you are, you’re probably under 40 and comfortable with surfing the internet and social networking. Me, I’m inclined to look in the phone book when I need a telephone number.
I should have seen the demise of the white pages coming. My current register is almost small enough to stuff into my back pocket…not the tome I formerly used as a door stop.
But I forgive myself for not envisioning the future. There are experts for that. People at the Rand Corporation make forecasts for a living as do writers like Alvin Toffler, author of “Future Shock” and “The Third Wave.” They’re called “futurists.” In the middle ages, they were called wizards and their tools weren’t algorithms or psychological profiling but chicken or goat entrails.
For the fun of it, I checked the internet for the track record of some of these modern futurists. Were they more or less accurate than Nostradamus? Well, they predicted “smellavision,” and flying cars like those of the Jetsons. And, according to some, the world was supposed to end in 2000.
As prognosticators of the future, science fictions writers seem to have done well. George Orwell warned us of Stalin’s rise in “Animal Farm.” Aldous Huxley cautioned us about Big Brother in “Brave New World.” And in “Fahrenheit 451” Ray Bradbury foretold of the evils of an anti-intellectual society bent on pleasure. I wish we’d had heeded his prognostication. We might have escaped Reality television.