During the last couple of weeks I have revisited some of the sci-fi classics I read when I was young. Robert A Heinlein was always one of my favorites. In what would be considered middle school in the US (4th-6th grade) we had one hour each week when the class was reading whatever book we had picked out in the library. At one time, I think it was in 5th grade, I read the Swedish translation of "Have Space Suit -- Will Travel". The other week I listened to this book as an audio book. This one was actually more of a radio theatre play, with different actors playing the different parts. I then followed this by listening to "Citizen of the Galaxy" and "Double Star".
The books were written in 1956, 1957 and 1958, and I noticed something interesting. Despite them taking place in the future, where space travel (even faster than light) is possible, and with all kinds of exotic technology available, many things we take for granted today are lacking.
In "Double Star", the main character is studying using an encyclopedia in the ships library. As we know today, online encyclopedias like wikipedia and internet searches have all but killed off the traditional printed encyclopedia. There is no way for a printed publication to stay current. If a celebrity or any other person dies, within minutes their wikipedia page will be updated with date/time and cause of death.
In "Citizen of the Galaxy" the missile control computers onboard the trade ships are manned by young adults with good math abilities. They seem to be somewhat aided by a rudimentary computer, but it is mainly the operator who calculate trajectory and time for release of the missiles. The result is recorded on a spool (which can be read by humans, so probably some kind of paper-like material). The concept of digital storage did not exist, and I am sure any PC (or even smart phone) today could perform the calculations needed much faster than any human, and with greater accuracy.
Some of the books also talk about huge archives, using micro film. Even if that still today is a great medium for long term storage, it is not the best choice for the kind of short term archiving used in the books. Again, the concept of digital storage does not appear in the books. The books basically build on the technology known in the 1950's, but "enhanced" as imagined in the future.
However, there is on interesting thing in "Double Star". When recordings are made (for public broadcasts), they are "stereoscopic", i.e. 3D. It is not until the last year or two we have actually seen 3D television become common. Personally I believe that we soon will see 3D television sets where we don't need to use special glasses (several manufacturers already have those) and that more and more tv shows and even news will be in 3D.
All this is not a slam on Robert A Heinlein or any other sci-fi writer from the past. It just illustrates how hard it is to predict a paradigm shift like PCs or the development of technology. For being almost 60 years old, the books are still very enjoyable. If you have not experienced Robert A Heinlein yet, pick up one of his books or an audiobook at the library, bookstore or favorite online retailer.
We are the IBM Champions
Wed, Dec 3rd 2014 7:39p Karl-Henry Martinsson This morning I received a mail from IBM telling me that for the second year I was selected as one of the 96 IBM Champions. Last year I was very surprised to be selected and to be in the company of so many of the experts in the ICS/Lotus community that I for years looked up to […] [read] Keywords: ibm
Happy 25th birthday, Lotus Notes!
Thu, Nov 27th 2014 12:45p Karl-Henry Martinsson Today is the 25th birthday of Lotus Notes. It is the program responsible for me moving to the US, as well as being my career for the last close to 18 years. So, as you can see in the picture above, I am toasting this amazing software in IBM blue colors, courtesy of Curaçao Blue. […] [read] Keywords: ibm
Verizon and AT&T are tracking all your online activity
Fri, Oct 31st 2014 2:45p Karl-Henry Martinsson As you may have read lately, Verizon have implemented a system that adds an HTTP header item in all web communication that originates from mobile phones on their network. Each phone/user get their own unique ID, which is transmitted to every website being visited (except if SSL is used), no matter if you have privacy/anonymous surfing […] [read] Keywords: mobile
Nokia is dead
Wed, Oct 22nd 2014 8:05a Karl-Henry Martinsson Microsoft is taking a page out of IBM’s playbook and is killing off the Nokia brand. Future models of the smart phones in the Lumia series will be named Microsoft Lumia. Last month the Nokia Lumia 735 and 830 were launched, and they will probably be the last phones branded as Nokia. The mobile division of Nokia will […] [read] Keywords: ibm
Microsoft skipping Windows 9 – jumps to Windows 10
Tue, Sep 30th 2014 12:40p Karl-Henry Martinsson Microsoft unveiled the next version of Windows at a press event in San Francisco today. Surprisingly the successor to Windows 8 and 8.1 will not be called Windows 9 as everyone expected. Instead Microsoft jumps straight to Windows 10. One reason for this, according to Microsoft, is that the new operating system is such a big leap […] [read] Keywords: microsoft
#ThrowbackThursday – Worst Practives at Connect 2013
Thu, Sep 18th 2014 6:05a Karl-Henry Martinsson Paul Mooney and Bill Buchan returns with a brand new Worst Practices at IBM Connect 2013. This session alone is almost worth the cost to attend Lotusphere/Connect/ConnectED. There is a slight skip towards the end, when I had to switch batteries. Otherwise you have the whole session, including the warm-up performance. [read] Keywords: ibm