Earlier today, a friend sent me a link to this old-ish post from the excellent history/art/cultural curiosity blog Paleo-Future. It’s a document written by John Elfreth Watkins, Jr., for Ladies’ Home Journal in 1900. It is entitled “What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years.”
I couldn’t resist reading the whole thing (see the big version here), and am compelled—as a person of the future—to log a few replies.
The most enjoyable thing about so many of these predictions is the dense mixture of what came true; what didn’t; and what sort of came true, only with an ironic twist. Are we taller? Yes. Living longer? Longer than fifty, thank you very much. So surely those ultra-convenient commutes from our suburban homes to our urban or exurban offices are to thank for these incredible gains? Not so much. I’ll see your 40 years of added life expectancy, and raise you some appalling late-twentieth-century gridlock.
A few other quick takes follow:
d00d, joo just got pwnt by teh future!
Good prediction! I might take more kindly to air conditioners if I could think of them as ‘spigots.’ No mention of CFCs, however. Where’d they think that cold air was going to come from?
I guess we, uh, tried.
It’s true, strawberries have gotten huge. But the bigger they get, the more bland they seem to taste.
Hovercraft! Will someone please build a giant hovercraft so I can get to England without flying? Paging Richard Branson?!
American public education, you’ve come a long way, and you’ve still got a long way to go.
If you consider the internet a series of tubes, then why yes.
It’s funny. This probably would be possible, if there were any money in giant, violet-scented pansies. It has me thinking about what other novelty hybrids I’d like to see.
It’s kind of crazy how they didn’t see plastic coming, exactly. Talk about an invention that really changed the world.
But I think I will pass on the beet-sized peas for now.
Just call me old-fashioned.