Christmas 2003 — Dr.-Who-style

One reason pundits love to make predictions about the future is that one is rarely called to account for accuracy. If you make some crazy statement about what life in the year 2023 is going to be like, odds are no one’s gonna keep track of your statements and check in to see how wrong you were.

That’s what’s so compelling about the following web site: A copy of an article printed in the 1974 Dr. Who Annual, called “A Space Age Christmas”, discussing what the baby Jesus’ holiday would be like in the year 2003. I’m not making this up. Some of the predictions include:

- The traditional decorated tree is very unlikely to be a real tree, but will probably be a plastic one, just as some homes already have today … If pollution and the effects of the population explosion go on at the present rate, there will probably be very few trees left in the world, and any forests which do still exist will be protected by stringent laws.

- Christmas messages might possibly also be sent on recording tape, and as this could well be the thickness of a human hair, such a tape would fit neatly into a small envelope.

- Because of the incredible advances in automation, machines might well be doing most of the work in our factories and offices, and so everyone might have much more leisure time. Many people believe that this will lead to a revival of handicrafts of all kinds, both because everyone will have more time for the craftsmanship involved and also because of the sheer unattractiveness of many mass-produced goods.

Personally, what I’m wondering is — what in hell are those people wearing? Some sort of Stalinist jumpsuit?

(Thanks to Tribblescape for this one!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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