Friday, August 22, 2008

The Future ... Out of Order

I was in Montreal this past week, and noticed an exciting store display. The full street level window of this business was taken up by a flat panel display. The video featured a pouting model strolling the runway and giving the camera a look that was both enticing and distancing.

As the bus I was on rounded the corner, we saw another window-sized display on that side. This one, however, just showed a perfect green field of gently rolling hills. Above it, a perfect blue sky with just the right number of fluffy white clouds looked on. It was, in short, the Windows Vista desktop background. Hovering in front of all this pastoral beauty was a rectangular box displaying a program failure message, complete with "Ok" button.

This reminded me of when I visited the Washington, D.C. area shortly after the opening of the Silver Spring, Md. Metro station. There were nine of the gleaming new fare card machines at the entrance. Of these, seven were out of order, and another failed while I stood on line. Eventually, the operators let everyone onto the Metro for free.

This is what the future holds. There will be technology to address every human need and desire, in the most sophisticated manner imaginable. But it will all be out of order.

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