Monday, June 30, 2014

Inspired Thoughts

I finished reading "Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore" recently on a 2 hour car trip. It was a fascinating read, and while I am not looking to do a full review on the title, it did leave me with some lingering thoughts.

"Mr Penumbra" is a great combination of old, dusty books and shiny, new Google things. Normally, people would view those two at odds with each other, but here they played together so nicely. Author Robin Sloan was out to prove that you don't need one OR the other, but that the two can co-exist.

During one point of the novel our MC, Clay and girl interest Kat start talking about the Singularity. In layman's terms it is basically the point in humanity's future where technology becomes smarter than it's creator. This is apparently difficult for the human brain to grasp. Kat challenges Clay to think as far ahead into the future as he can; what will it be like. Of course he lists the things we all think of, flying cars, video phones, travelling in space, colonies on the moon and/or Mars....but what comes beyond that? What will humanity look like in 3014?  What comes after flying cars and virtual reality? Body and/or mood enhancers? (Never works. Ask the Doctor...) But what about beyond then? Where else can our ''me'' obsessed culture go?

One hundred years ago people would have had no concept of smart phones, e readers, Targets; how can we then try to fathom the future 1,000 years from now? Consider how quickly we have grown technologically since even the 1980s. Those smart phones people could never have dreamed of are so fully integrated into our everyday lives.

Since I struggle with the future, I thought back to the past; were there answers there? I was reminded of all the great inventions that have gotten us to where we are. And there is a difference between the 'most useful' inventions and the 'coolest' inventions. So I created a little list :) I tried to think of the inventions that truly revolutionized our world, and that I would hate to live without, versus inventions that we could do without, but are pretty cool and we wouldn't want to do with out

Most Useful:
-The printed press
-Automated 'house servants' (dishwashers, washing machines)
-motorized transportation
-Sliced Bread :))

-Touch Screens
-Blu Ray/DVDs
-Video games in general

I can't wait until those lists include flying cars, sonic showers, cancer cures, living books, holodecks, time travel, transporters, and lightsabers.

So what do you hope to see invented in the future?? What items can I add to my lists??

PS For more resources that explore this and similiar ideas read anything by Isaac Asimov, Johnny Depp's newest movie "Transcendence", and even season 4 episode 2 of the Big Bang Theory, to name a few   


  1. Great book, I really enjoyed reading it earlier this year :)

  2. Oh wow, this is a very thought-provoking post! I think it is very hard to imagine what the future will bring - but I hope there will be mass space travel for humans - although I don't think I would want to go into space! And just a better way of taking care of our planet and all life - less pollution, disease, hunger.

    As for inventions, I can't really think of anything but flying cars would be so cool, holodecks would be kinda scary haha, and living books sounds amazing!

  3. The holodecks on Star Trek always look so cool, but they do get the crew in a lot of trouble!
    I really do that as we progress as a society, we take the focus off of ourselves and focus on ways to better the world, such as eradicating hunger and cancer!

  4. I'm glad you liked it as well! I was pleasantly surprised as I had assumed it would just be a book about working in a bookstore and that is it!

  5. I've often thought how I'd have to live like the stone ages if all the people who make all these cool things suddenly stopped. I couldn't even make a toilet, which has got to be one of the greatest inventions ever. :) Smart phones also rank very high on my list! Sounds like an interesting book....

  6. Very interesting thoughts! I think you're right; we really can't imagine what things will be like too far ahead. I mean, my old college has a tech program that is working on a holodeck! It's still limited to visuals, but look at how quickly things are changing.

  7. Oh love this! I've seen some reviews about Mr. Penumbra but haven't actually read it yet. It's sort of disappeared from my mind. But now that you talk about this it makes me want to read it more because I sort of like how it brings these two things, that so many people like to keep apart, together.

    It really is bizarre to think about what the future might look like, especially since you know you can't really know. I mean, even things that will likely appear ten years from now I doubt I can fully imagine. Sometimes it seems like my mind is way too limited by reality. I wish I could just think things up without thinking about what I already know! :P

    I think your list of useful and cool is pretty darn good. I do think useful should also require transportation - especially planes. I don't think I'd ever end up in the UK otherwise. (I cannot imagine trying to do it by boat O.o). And of course, there are things like medical equipment that are quite useful! And cool? What about theme parks? haha.