So you know that wonderful world of the future where we’re supposed to be all plugged into each other’s brains and our Twitter updates will be scrolling across our foreheads and we’ll be able to order the latest eyeglass fashions by blinking?
Wait, isn’t that what you wanted the future to be like?
This video from London design firm Berg and advertising agency Dentsu, which was posted on BoingBoing the other day, presumes that you do want headlines and social media updates gently flickering across your field of vision, or at least out of the corner of your eye, pretty much constantly. Kind of like butterflies, or something.
“We’re exploring what happens … when the sorts of service that we’re currently familiar [with] from app culture, if you like, become all-pervasive, and that information is just ambiently available just at a glance,” says Berg’s Jack Schulze.
What happens, if you believe what is supposed to be a promotional video, is the emergence of a dreary, Orwellian world, one in which every surface becomes a screen on which “updates” of various kinds are constantly glowing, headlines show up on your receipts, and everyone walks around in a mildly narcotized state.
The comments thread on the post at BoingBoing, which was oddly headlined “Imagining an augmented reality future that’s not an advertising hell,” comes down pretty hard against this particular vision of the future. As many people point out, regardless of the way BoingBoing is pitching it, this kind of technology would of course be used for advertising; the film was, after all, produced by an ad firm, and they say right up front it was done in part for existing clients (including Uniqlo, which is featured).
Then there’s the incredible energy suck that all this technology would require. Where’s the power coming from?
But my main objection to this vision of the future is that it looks damn boring. If you’re going to live in a landscape that’s all taken up by text and shilling for various products, it should at least provide some thrills.
As in the madly entertaining Academy Award-winning animated short film by the French collective H5, Logorama. In it, a couple of Michelin Men square off against Ronald McDonald in a throwdown worthy of Tarantino, and there’s not an inch of landscape that hasn’t been branded.
Get your weekend off to a good start and watch it. The future is here.