01/05/2010. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: Orion Business Books. 228 page indexed enlarged paperback. Price: £ 3.00 (UK) or less if you know where to look. ISBN: 0-75281-366-8.
check out website: www.orionbooks.co.uk
In my hunt for books for the bibliography for my science chapter of SF Nomenclature, I came across this book released in 1998. With a title like '108 Tips For Time Travellers', either author Peter Cockrane is a time traveller looking for other time travellers or, as it turned out, someone giving predictions for the future. Now bear in mind these are actually articles that were originally published in 'The Guardian' newspaper over a dozen years ago, we are actually in the immediate future that he is making forecast about. We can all make guesses as to where some things can lead but accuracy or even when is a lot tougher. Here, I can put these to the test.
Peter Cockrane is the head of research department at British Telecom and has to keep up with, if not ahead of the game, when it comes to technology. What was interesting about this book was how much of what he wrote is what we have today. Computers and the Internet is becoming more integrated in society but we're still far from becoming a paperless society, although the instant contact of email messages is making the world smaller. He also explains about how secure the Net for transactions are compared to going into a shop or giving details in public over a mobile telephone. Quite right, too, as you never know who is listening in. He hit all these on the head and with the reasoning, especially the paper bit. Even with e-books around, I'm sure a decent part of the population would like to have paper than a plastic screen in their hands.
One thing that I totally agree with him on is how much software size eats into hard drive space or RAM when in use. I see it as almost as though software houses see it as a means fill up then using concise programming code. Granted the houses, from a marketing point of view, want to show more things than a previous version, there's a lot of stuff that gets barely touched outside of the most basic functions. It's there, just in case. Maybe it would be easier if people bought a basic software package and only imported what they needed extra would be a better choices. If there's a valid reason to improve, I'm all for it but just tinkering because they can, doesn't seem that responsible even as a business objective. If a piece of software works well and people buy it then better to do something radical than tinker. At least then it would allow research into more radical programming.
There is a lot of information to let sink into your brain with all of these 108 articles. I'm hardly going to skim the surface in a review here. It would be interesting to see him do a follow-up and see where the next decade will take us. I think there is still something of interest for you to think about with this book. Will I use it in my bibliography? Actually no. It deserves a place in one of my earlier chapters about computers.
It's rare to come across accurate books seeing the future. Considering Cockrane gets it mostly right for the present should have you nodding in agreement should make you think. It might also make you consider any holes that need to be filled as well.
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