"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Turning pages into the future which is now

Reading thrusts me on travels to new worlds, worlds in the past and  present and future I'd never experience otherwise. This Februrary, I turned the pages through two books on trips of discovery.
Early in the month, graduate and friend Andy Jensen (he who gave me the Fahrenheit 451 gift a year ago) dropped by to loan me another science fiction book by a favorite author of his, David Brin.
"This guy can crush a sentence," Andy said , warning me to be patient, and get through the first 100 pages of the this 556-page monster, Existence.
So it was, as I was plunged into the future less than 50 years from now when mankind finally makes contact with the remnants of other life in the universe.
But that was not the main story for me, because Brin's views of the near future are disturbing and all too realistic. This author, a Ph.D. scientist, has quite a following in science fiction, but he's more than a fiction writer. He's a futurist and uncanny predictor of how technology effects us. A previous book,  Earth, in 1990 visualized the World Wide Web, global warming and email spam, among other trends.
In this current book, just out in 2012, the seas are rising, drones, complete tyranny of free information overload and more make privacy impossible. Considering the current fragmented state of America, I find it chilling he predicts another American civil war, and genetic tinkering with animals, like dolphins, to enable communication.
Google "Google glasses" and
you get this image
But what really caught my attention was that people all wear Specs...glasses that provide instantaneous communication with the rest of the world, with built in gps systems, computers and much more to augment reality. Did you see what is in the news this month?  Google announced its "reality augmentation" glasses that will come equipped with a computer, video, etc. The future predicted, is now.
But as I said, he's more than a science fiction writer. He's a fellow of the Institute of Ethics and Emerging Technologies, has degrees in astrophysics, applied physics and the doctorate in space science. He's built  a sophisticated reputation. Check out his websites, including his blog, http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/ and his website http://www.davidbrin.com/.
Read the book? Yes. Did I scan some of it...yes because I get to the action. Be prepared not to grasp much of it at first, or if at all, but his writing gives such a glimpse into our present that you can see the future.
The second book is a fifth of its size and written by friend and HR maven Jessica Miller-Merrill, Tweet This. I first met her at an OKC  blog gathering a couple of years ago. Here's an exciting, career-driven woman who has parlayed hard work and a bumpy employment history into a national reputation in Human Resources.
I've had her speak to my twitter and blogging classes, because she's mastered the field, and makes a full time living, working from home and speaking, through her digital foundation. 
She gave a copy of this book to each of my students in "Tweeting for Journalists"  class during the intersession class, and it's full of advice for the present, leading again to the future. I don't require textbooks, but this is one I will require.
You have to check out her blog, "Blogging 4 Jobs," to see what can be accomplished with passion and technology, now and in the future,  blogging4jobs.com
So those are the pages of February, making four book travels this year, two fiction and two non-fiction. Here's the Bradbury link:  http://clarkcoffee.blogspot.com/2011/12/gift-of-teaching.html 




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