Paleofuturism: The History of the Future from the Past

This long and brilliantly illustrated article was written by John O’Brien for Educause Review. I could not do justice to it if I tried to summarize it in a couple of sentences, so I’ll just mention a couple of things that piqued my interest. O’Brien says that it is important to understand the past, and thinking about the future is fundamentally human, but it is still more fascinating to think about “the road pointing back to where you were, the road pointing ahead to where you’re going, and the moment at the crossroads contemplating both.” I learned a new term from this article: “paleofuture.” It refers to concentrating on representations of the future in the past. He doesn’t mention the novels of Jules Verne, but this is a good place to look. One of the many illustrations in the article shows a house maid using a mechanical floor scrubbing device that has a broom and a sponge attache to it. Someone made this illustrated card in 1899, about one hundred years before the Roomba was developed. Please read and enjoy this interesting article for yourself.

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