I don’t think there is anything future-nosticators got wrong worse than newspapers.  You can read the old sci fi books, and you’ll have your Buck Starleaper going into an alien city, and paying his 10 galactic cents from his credstick and picking up a flimsy newspaper, which was predicted to be some sort of thin plastic viewable programmable film.   Other versions of the future included blade runner video kiosks that you walked up to and read your news, or watched the viddies, but nobody got it right.

What happened to the newspapers was two things.  First of all, newspaper on a piece of paper is not news.  It’s literally one or two days old.  Second of all, on the internet, all of the different models of pay for play broke down, so nobody wants to drop his 10 galactic cents on a news viddie when he can watch it for free on the interwebs.

The way we get news now is we receive our tweets, our facebook updates, watch some television, listen to some radio, so you see nothing actually replaced the newspaper, there is no flimsy you pay for, there is no video kiosk you swipe your credstick on, though the part of the future where you walk around swiping credsticks did come true.

Newspapers now are like pottery.  Today you’ll have a ton of would be artists making pots, and they travel from art show to art show, trying desperately to sell their wares.  It’s not making a living, it’s trying to make money off of an art form.  That’s where newspapers are today, everyone loves making newspapers, but nobody wants to buy day old news for money.

Newspapers are dead.  And the problem with all of the future-nosticators is that they couldn’t imagine a world in which newspapers are a dead art form instead of what it was 10 years ago, a commercial enterprise.  A sea change occurred in the entire field, moving from a productive viable commercial enterprise that employed a lot of people into an art craft.  Now of course it’s not like newspapers will ever entirely die out, any more than people running around trying to sell bowls of cracked glaze Raku they made in their basement will die out.  But this shift is something that the future-nosticators all got wrong because it involves a perceptual change in what in fact is a newspaper.  You can put a newspaper in plastic in flimsies, put it on a viddie on a kiosk that’s easy to imagine, it only involves dressing up the newspaper in new tech, but the perceptual change from a commodity driven product into a leisure time art form was too difficult to foresee.

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