Monday, December 12, 2005

Hack to the future

The New York Times did an interesting riff yesterday on how many of the recent developments in professional football were actually forecast in a 1962 episode of "The Jetsons". The episode, titled "Jetson's Night Out", included a domed stadium ("Space Coliseum") some three years before the Astrodome was built, and such innovations as Skycam, bar code scanners for tickets (rather than ripping the ticket at the turnstiles), and radio communications between the coach and the quarterback.

It was a pretty uncanny depiction of the future of professional football. But perhaps more importantly, it was probably one of the first citations of "The Jetsons" as an accurate portrayal of the future.

For years, "The Jetsons" has been the benchmark for describing how preposterous our vision of the future is. And, of course, my flying car is still on order and I'm bringing an actual dish to the staff holiday party this evening, rather than food in capsule form.

And yet, "The Jetsons" references endure, rivaled only by Jules Verne for cultural iconography. Funny, given that "The Flintstones", which was essentially the same show, hasn't been cited nearly as much in the debate over evolution and "intelligent design" school curricula.

Maybe it's because at some level, we're all still holding out for flying cars and robots that do the dishes. And maybe it's because we've forgotten about the Jetsons' take on the workplace.

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