Ask A Genius 206 – Not for My Kid
Scott Douglas Jacobsen & Rick Rosner
June 22, 2017
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Rick Rosner: You’ve got more and better technology at 1472. Before that, the written word was a pain in the ass to circulate, and then across the next 550 years. It has become easier and easier to reproduce and disseminate words on paper or on screens.
But that whole deal of the printed word(s) has been a kind of stable point. Cars have been stable for 90 or 100 years, even though you have demographic changes. You have cars getting better with more features, but we use cars in a lot and even most of the same ways and for the same purposes.
So, you have stability, you have S curves. S curves show some things are being used by 0% of the population to almost every member of a population. The S curve measures the percent of the population doing or using something.
So, the S curve for the telephone is flat until the 1870s, 1880s. Then it starts to gradually go up. The curve of adaptation gets steep around 1910 and 1935. By the end of WWII, it is weird if a household doesn’t have a telephone.
That is an S curve for telephone, where it goes from a flat 0% of this curve to a flat 100%, and we can guess that future changes and the S curve implies punctuation. The S in the phone curve occupies 50 years. You’ve got thousands of phonelessness before the S.
You’ve got some 80 years and counting after the telephone. So, graduality, the people who live in times of change experience that gradual narrative. Things change. II experienced the changes of the computer chips invading the home. My kid didn’t.
By the time she was ready to really use computers, as close to the time that people got started; by the time she was old enough to make effective use of computers, the search was in place and the Internet was in place too.
The Internet sucked in 1995. Information search has been a super bad point of almost not being a thing. So, I experienced the S curve. My kid didn’t. So, science fiction tends to focus on S curve stuff. The going away of some old way of being and the coming of some new way of being.
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American Television Writer
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing
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