02 October 2012

Not Just Old -- Internet Old

If I want to know what it was like to wait for the iPhone 5 launch (or Samsung Galaxy S III if you're a giant with giant hands) all I have to do is remember back real hard and then I remember what it was like.

'Cause it was like two weeks ago. And I can remember back that far so, that works well.

But I don't really remember the launch for the first iPhone. I wasn't following the blogs I'm following today and it's hard for me to place myself in the middle of the buzz that led up to what, at that point, was a largely unknown mystery magic-box.

To the internet!

Let's use, for example, engadget. They're a fairly respected gadget blog and they've been around for a while. I remember that before it was officially the iPhone it was whispers of an Apple phone. So I search for that in the 2006 neighborhood of engadget and find some choice tips:
  • January launch on "all" providers, both CDMA and GSM
  • Extremely small form factor
  • Two battery design (with single charger) -- one for playing music, the other for phone functions
  • Flash memory: 4GB for $249, 8GB for $449
  • "Slide-out keyboard"
  • Possibly touchscreen

Pretty sweet right? Personally I'm most excited about the slide-out keyboard. But what would the internet be without throngs of irritated, impossibly knowledgeable commenters? 

From the same post:

This guy's actually not that bad. What's fascinating to me is going back and trying to get into that mindset. Trying to guess whether or not the guesses were right.

Even more interesting is the fact that this comment is nearly seven years old. That's fuckin' forever on the internet. Remember chat roulette? It has come and gone in that time span. Rickrolling? Four more iPhones? All of that has come to pass. If you told me in 2006 that animated .gifs were to make a strong resurgence in 2012 I would have punched you squarely in the jaw. People have graduated high school, gone to college, and started shitty jobs in seven years. It's a long time.

But, without getting into a broader discussion on the nature of time (just kidding here I go!) seven years is the blink of an eye. On the scale of a human life, seven years is a fractional amount. On a geological timescale seven years wouldn't even register and when you start looking at things like the age of the universe - and how long it could take for the universe to collapse back into supermassive black holes and protons to die - seven years rounds down to zero. It's nothing.

I'm saying it's hard to think on longer time scales, which is why I have maximum respect for the folks of the Long Now Foundation. They're in the process of designing a clock that could run for 10,000 years. Jeff Bezos has a smaller one being built in Texas so they can work out the kinks. 

10,000 years! That's incredible. Whether it succeeds in 10,000 years is immaterial to me. The idea that there are people who are optimistic enough to think that any of this will still exist in 10,000 years is exciting. I can't plan more than a week at a time.

I'm stuck in "now".

The Long Now has a Long Bets section - an "Arena for Accountable Predictions". 

This is where I'm tying back everything from the beginning, by the way.

Anyway you can hop over to Long Bets and say 

"Oh I bet in 100 years that we'll all be wearing cargo shorts again." 

(fingers crossed)

Then your prediction gets vetted and up it goes and in 100 years someone will come back and say "Ha! How can you wear cargo shorts if no one has any legs, stupid human?" Then the hyper-evolved squid will blast off in a jet of ink and you'll feel foolish for making such a prediction. 

But I figured this was just a place for people to make outlandish bets for far-future events. And there is some of that. For the span 2008 - 2108:

Well okay, in 2108 I'll come back and see if that happened and then i'll rub this dude's face in it. 

Imagine my surprise then when I found a bet that had been settled.

Well... damn. That's actually pretty good. But someone could have placed that bet in 2008 right? 


It's from 2002. On the internet! Ten years! And my first clue (other than the listed dates) was this right here:

10 years ago! Just like that. And this isn't one of those long-dead message boards that floats to the top in a Google search or something. It's not a cached page. This is an active site - still. By the way, someone was determined to have lost that bet in 2010 (or 02010 as they list it, emphasizing the long time scale of these things) courtesy of Netflix. Netflix... who is still around! 

So not only did someone keep this site up for now twelve years, but the commenters and comment system are still intact and active. This is the same dedication that these "six years of aging" time-lapse people display. 


And the way they're operating it's as if they actually intend for this framework to still be in place in 50 years or 100 years to settle bets that are still being placed. It's humbling and hopelessly optimistic and for the most part, seems very genuine. There's some big names in here too - Ted Danson, Ray Kurzweil (futurist), Michio Kaku (the physicist from the TV), Warren Buffett.

So while seven year old comments are interesting, they pale next to ten year old comments and are totally blown out of the water by a group of people actively imagining the next 10,000 years. 


Here's an article about a 600+ year long organ performance.

No comments:

Post a Comment