When I Predicted 2010
I started writing my first novel in 1992 or so. It was… terrible. Lost in the sands of time due to hard drive corruption or something like that. Thank God. The main character was myself. Not some pseudonymical stand-in for myself, but myself. It took place in 2010.
Now, it wasn’t intended to be a futurist piece. It took place in 2010 because the elements of the plot couldn’t have me being 15 or so. So I doubled my age, which put it circa 2008, and then added a couple years because 2010 was more interesting. I extrapolated very conservatively from current trends at the time and that was that. I wasn’t familiar with Moore’s Law. As a result, the 2010 I envisioned was not nearly as advanced as the one we experienced.
It had a Krugmanian view of the Internet, as there and not-insignificant but also not revolutionary. In the story, it was stymied by the need of the government to control speech of the hate and unpatriotic variety. There was an Alternet that was not so restricted, but was restricted in other ways.
There were some things I got right, though. Sometimes predictable, sometimes not.
In the story, the Los Angeles Raiders moved back to Oakland, which would happen a bit later. The Houston Oilers left Houston, but not for Nashville. Jacksonville got an expansion team.
There was an Earth-Shattering terrorist attack in 2001. In the story, it took place in Seattle rather than New York, and it was in March (3/2/01) rather than September. There was a war, but details were not really spelled out. There were conspiracy theories.
George W Bush was president. Very unpopular. In the story, he unseated President Gore in 2004. He had not yet been elected governor of Texas when it was written, though it was known that he and his brother were running for governor.
Perhaps the oddest thing I got right involved the little brother of someone I knew. He was nine or so when it was written, but in the book it turned out that he was gay. He came out in 2006 or so.
I got a lot wrong, too, and not just of the trajectory of technology. In the story, crime rates had continued to get worse. It was a very unsafe place. It was a case where nobody knew what to do about it rather than everybody trying to take credit for it.
The biggest thing I got wrong was of a more personal nature. The self I depicted, over fifteen years down the road, was rather lonely. He was unmarried with little prospect of marriage. He was an extrapolation of who I felt I was at the time, and as with the Internet, it didn’t know that trajectories change and that the life you have at any given point, and the path you seem to be on, isn’t set in stone.
I re-started it in the early aughts and actually finished the first installment. The character in that story was fictional. That was partly a product of not being the self-absorbed teenager who wanted to write a story strictly as a vehicle of self-expression. But it was partly because it had to be. The person that the story was about pretty far from the person I became.
So hooray for getting it wrong!