Nostalgia: Looking Back on the 1990s
Dec. 15, 1999 -- As
the millennium draws to a close, Mark A. Shields, an assistant professor
at the University of Virginia who specializes in technology and
culture, wonders what the younger generation will remember with
nostalgia 50 years from now. Here are his top-10 picks:
Frequent Face-To-Face Conversations: As for colleagues at work,
fuggedaboutit. Even within households, face-to-face conversations
among family members will be much less common than they are now.
And thats families whose schedules overlap at home.
Intelligent, Non-Vulgar Comedy: Whoops, we're already nostalgic
about that. (Maybe it will be reborn and today's 20-somethings will
be nostalgic in 2050 for the dumb and vulgar humor they knew in
Gasoline-Powered Sports Utility Vehicles: As the world goes capitalist
and more of the world's poor get richer and buy cars, the prohibitive
price of oil, coupled with the availability of alternative fuels
and powerful batteries, will finally make today's SUVs extinct mechanical
dinosaurs. And good riddance!
License Plates: Vehicle identification numbers and other ID info
about cars and drivers will be recorded and stored electronically
and made accessible to police and others via ultra-high-speed networks
linking numerical, graphic, photographic, genetic and geographical
data via the network of the future.
Software-Brand Choice: Microsoft will probably have it all, directly
or indirectly. If Microsoft doesn't own it all, it will still be
one of 2-3 giants worldwide.
Shopping Malls: Bricks-and-mortar wont be able to compete
economically in the long run with the e-commerce.
College Campuses: It's apparent now that technological, economic,
geographic and pedagogical factors will make residential campuses
rare and expensive. Online education and virtual universities will
have long become commonplace. The growth of digital libraries is
probably the key driving force right now toward this academic future.
Tenured Professors: Well, maybe nobody will be nostalgic, but tenured
professors will be at or near extinction. Instead, nontenured "professors"
will be content providers for virtual universities, and they will
probably work on contracts that pay them on a per capita, students-served
White Male U.S. Presidents: White males will be nostalgic, but not
the rest of us. Nuff said.
The Cold War: The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction --
nuclear, biological, chemical, electronic -- will have us all so
terrified that we'll be redefining the Cold War as the Golden Age
of geopolitical stability.
more information, contact Mark A. Shields at (804) 924-3234, or
He will be available in Virginia until Dec. 17. From Dec. 18 to
Jan. 3, he can be reached in France at (011) 33 4 78 72 00 58 or
Charlotte Crystal, (804) 924-6858