Visions of the Future

“In the future, using the internet will be as common as using the telephone services we have today”

Two ‘vision videos’ – one from Microsoft in 2011 and the other from Apple circa 1987 and the ensuing debate between two high profile bloggers.

I’m interested in the discussion about whether this very specific genre of coprorate film is useful or not.

In their favour, they can be seen as a beacons directing a company, and a wider industry, towards a ‘promised land’. At the same time, as John Gruber argues in this post, they can also be a mighty distraction – what if the resources, energy and creativity that were piled into them were instead focused on real product?

What do I think? I think these videos are most useful as ways of understanding how technology companies see human relations and cultural context today – science fiction as a genre has always been, first and foremost, about today not tomorrow. What social relationships, concerns and imaginaries do such videos portray?

Here’s the Microsoft video from ‘today’

And here’s the one for the Apple Knowledge Navigator from 1987.