“When we think of information technology we forget about postal systems, the telegraph, the telephone, radio, and television,” writes Edgerton. “When we celebrate on-line shopping, the mail order catalogue goes missing.” To read, for instance, that the film The Net boldly anticipated online pizza delivery decades ahead of its arrival7 ignores the question of how much of an advance it is: Using an electronic communication medium to order a real-time, customizable pizza has been going on since the 1960s. And when I took a subway to a café to write this article and electronically transmit it to a distant editor, I was doing something I could have done in New York City in the 1920s, using that same subway, the Roosevelt Brothers coffee shop, and the telegram, albeit less efficiently. (Whether all that efficiency has helped me personally, or just made me work more for declining wages, is an open question). We expect more change than actually happens in the future because we imagine our lives have changed more than they actually have.
From Why Futurism Has a Cultural Blindspot by Tom Vanderbilt (via Paris Marx)