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The Time Traveler's Almanac > "How the Future Got Better" -Eric Schaller (2-1-15)

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message 1: by Lincoln, Temporal Jester (new)

Lincoln | 1290 comments Mod
Join us in reading "How the Future Got Better"

Full story online here:

http://www.sensesfive.com/2010/08/01/...


message 2: by James (new)

James Joyce (james_patrick_joyce) | 189 comments Ummmmm.... was that a short story or a vignette?


message 3: by James (last edited Feb 01, 2015 08:01PM) (new)

James Joyce (james_patrick_joyce) | 189 comments It was certainly an easy read. But... I dunno, I feel like the writer avoided doing anything useful or interesting with the idea.

Maybe the point was to suggest that humans are banal and, even with the ability to see the future, most people would sit there and stare, same as they always do.

But even a theme like "sheep will be sheep" can be explored in a more interesting way. Like I said, it was an easy read, but I still am left feeling like my time was wasted. In a mild-mannered way.


message 4: by Lincoln, Temporal Jester (new)

Lincoln | 1290 comments Mod
I imagined the family setting up the Nintendo Wii for the first time on Christmas morning several years ago now and everyone packed in and around the TV...Watching the little ones play "Tennis" with the remotes in hand and everyone being impressed by the new tech and than well ok...

Not sure if this is social commentary on anything about the current TV generation...I could see this being a security system or fire alarm. Not only do you have an intruder or a fire in your house you now have five minutes to react before any of it happens.


message 5: by James (new)

James Joyce (james_patrick_joyce) | 189 comments Yes, it would certainly change the value of a security check-point that is watched by a 5 minute time viewer.


message 6: by Amy, Queen of Time (new)

Amy | 2210 comments Mod
This story kind of reminds me of what eventually happened to the internet. Once upon a time, it was mainly just filled with nerdy people. Then, when everyone and their grandma got the internet, it seemed to get dumbed-down quite a bit. Chat rooms and long rambling blogs turned into 2-sentence FaceBook posts which turned into updates of funny cat photos and a thumbs-up.

It makes me wonder what the difference was in the reaction of the nerds who developed this technology versus releasing into the wild where it was received as a boring version of a reality television show.

Do people really eat supper at a specific time every evening such that 30 minutes makes a difference? I think that's the part of the story that I mused over most.

The story makes for an interesting idea though. 3 stars at most.


message 7: by Nathan, First Tiger (new)

Nathan Coops (icoops) | 544 comments Mod
I liked it. The scene setting was great in that I felt like I knew the characters pretty well for being such a short read. The author does a good job of encapsulating the characters with brief clear characteristics. I don't know that there was a specific commentary or theme but you can certainly extrapolate several if you try. I think that is the best kind of writing. If it came out and banged you over the head with its point, it would lose some of it's versatility. I'll give it 4 stars.

Lincoln, I am with you on remembering the joys of setting up new game systems etc. I feel like my family has a scene like this with our first VCR.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 902 comments Welp, coming in late I get to cheat and not think about my reaction, but just choose among yours. I'm finding everything Nathan said in #7 to be spot on, except that I'll give it only 3 stars.

I do love tight encapsulations and ideas left open to interpretation - but I still wanted just a little bit more.... I want to know if that 5 minute preview is the end-all of this new technology, and what 'ghosting' is It sounds dangerous).


message 9: by Amy, Queen of Time (new)

Amy | 2210 comments Mod
I'd like to see a little ghosting experiment. What if Uncle Yeehaw didn't get up to get that beer? Would their television screen then have to switch to the new reality or would you suddenly have screen-in-screen parallel world action going on?


message 10: by Lincoln, Temporal Jester (new)

Lincoln | 1290 comments Mod
Amy wrote: "I'd like to see a little ghosting experiment. What if Uncle Yeehaw didn't get up to get that beer? Would their television screen then have to switch to the new reality or would you suddenly have sc..."

Its possible Amy...However you will have to upgrade to the newest model to allow for the new features...


message 11: by James (new)

James Joyce (james_patrick_joyce) | 189 comments Amy wrote: "I'd like to see a little ghosting experiment. What if Uncle Yeehaw didn't get up to get that beer? Would their television screen then have to switch to the new reality or would you suddenly have sc..."

You're assuming that it's possible. The set may only show what you will eventually do.


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 902 comments But mom faded when she started to refuse what was predicted... it seemed to me like it would be something you'd not want to mess with....


Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 902 comments Or, think about how the manual suggested turning it on five minutes early, to avoid the ghostings... does that mean that the receiver can only predict if it's in active contact with the viewer(s)?

If so, then turning it off, or to another show, or walking away should be safe... but defying it may not be....


message 14: by James (new)

James Joyce (james_patrick_joyce) | 189 comments Cheryl wrote: "Or, think about how the manual suggested turning it on five minutes early, to avoid the ghostings... does that mean that the receiver can only predict if it's in active contact with the viewer(s)? ..."

No, it wasn't a threatening thing. Mom was just being a doofus.

The image on the screen started ghosting, because she changed the probabilities, just by considering different actions. In fact, her awareness of it must certainly have changed things, if only slightly.

And that invalidates my previous comment. I forgot about the ghosting.

The only thing that makes sense, to me, is that her image ghosted, but would then resettle, once she stopped thinking about tricking it (in other words, once she stopped thinking about her future). It's also why you're told to set it for 5 minutes: that's the farthest it can look into the future, with any semblence of accuracy.

Quantum uncertainty washes out images altogether, fairly quickly.


message 15: by James (new)

James Joyce (james_patrick_joyce) | 189 comments Interesting thought came to me:

You could end up playing "Keeping up with the Jones's", but you are the Jones's.


message 16: by Lincoln, Temporal Jester (new)

Lincoln | 1290 comments Mod
LOL James!!


message 18: by Glynn (new)

Glynn | 266 comments I liked this one. Reminded me of the opening of "The Simpsons," sort of.... Not sure if I understand the ending. I *think* I understand it but just not sure. Anyway: 4 stars. :)


message 19: by Glynn (new)

Glynn | 266 comments James wrote: "Ummmmm.... was that a short story or a vignette?"

I googled "vignette" and I think this might be the 2nd definition! (especially with the ghosting thing):

2. a small illustration or portrait photograph that fades into its background without a definite border.


message 20: by James (new)

James Joyce (james_patrick_joyce) | 189 comments Glynn wrote: "I googled "vignette" and I think this might be the 2nd definition! (especially with the ghosting thing)"

While I applaud your poetic interpretation and use of the term, I actually meant it as an honest question.

This introduces a bunch of characters, exposes them to something and... the rest of the "story" is missing. This seems like the part, in someone else's short story, that's dealt with in a paragraph, before we get to the really interesting stuff.


message 21: by James (last edited Feb 11, 2015 05:16PM) (new)

James Joyce (james_patrick_joyce) | 189 comments Glynn wrote: "I liked this one. Reminded me of the opening of "The Simpsons," sort of....

ha


Glynn wrote: Not sure if I understand the ending. I *think* I understand it but just not sure. "

Well, here's the best place to check. Why not say what you understood and see if it floats?


message 22: by Glynn (new)

Glynn | 266 comments James wrote: "Glynn wrote: Not sure if I understand the ending. I *think* I understand it but just not sure. "

Well, here's the best place to check. Why not say what you understood and see if it floats?"


ok (view spoiler) but now that I am writing it I think I am wrong.


message 23: by James (new)

James Joyce (james_patrick_joyce) | 189 comments He spots them watching something, but Nut Jobs wasn't on.

I think the point was that they didn't even have to think for themselves, they could just do what they see themselves doing.


I believe the entire story is a condemnation of popular culture and the cult of boob tube.


message 24: by Glynn (new)

Glynn | 266 comments James wrote: "...I believe the entire story is a condemnation of popular culture and the cult of boob tube. "

I think you are correct :)


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