The closest I have come to the future the future promised in 2001, A Space Odyssey
Seriously. Is this the ten, or the teens, or what? The last decade seems to have no name at all (the noughties? the nils?). We seem to be living in some epochal limbo, where things change but kinda stay the same. Like we’re waiting for history to begin again, in the twenties perhaps.
Aside from faster Internet, I can’t say that my life is that much different from 1992. The blips of Steve Jobs aside, we haven’t seen that much revolutionary genius, and even then, I used a touchscreen Apple in the 1990s. It was called the Newton. It’s much the same in the arts. Things are updated, but not drastically different. Drive is essentially an updated Steve McQueen movie with updated 80s music. I just bought a plaid shirt cause apparently that’s back again.
An interesting article from Vanity Fair says much the same.
Try to spot the big, obvious, defining differences between 2012 and 1992. Movies and literature and music have never changed less over a 20-year period. Lady Gaga has replaced Madonna, Adele has replaced Mariah Carey—both distinctions without a real difference—and Jay-Z and Wilco are still Jay-Z and Wilco. Except for certain details (no Google searches, no e-mail, no cell phones), ambitious fiction from 20 years ago (Doug Coupland’s Generation X, Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, Martin Amis’s Time’s Arrow) is in no way dated, and the sensibility and style of Joan Didion’s books from even 20 years before that seem plausibly circa-2012. (You Say You Want A Devolution?)
It’s tempting to say Facebook, or cell phones, but really? Most changes of the past 20 years have been within systems, not changes of systems. The internal combustion engine was a new paradigm, as was the nuclear bomb. In the recent past, we’ve just modified the car (hybrids, electrics) without challenging it fundamentally. We’ve made smaller nukes and different bombers but again, nothing game changing. It’s also worth remembering that in the not so recent past we also discovered electricity, penicillin and other wonders that seem like magic right now. Most changes in my lifetime have been within systems not changes of system per se, with the exception of the World Wide Web in 1990.
I think that we are in a period of general stasis, until more people catch up. While the fortunes of the US or Europe have stayed the same or decline, the rest of the world has changed dramatically, China, India and now Sri Lanka in the lead. These countries are generally adopting western innovations (roads, communications, etc), but at some point they’ll have a head of steam going into 2020 and push beyond. William Gibson has said the future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed. I think, in these unnamed decades, it’s slowly distributing itself before it explodes into something new in the nameable 20s. If we don’t have flying cars by 2050 I’m going to be pissed.