What a thing to behold: 2014! I found it a bit startling to reach 2010; by now these high numbers seem almost normal. Some born in this millennium are already teenagers and aren’t far from voting age. For those of us born back in the fitties, it can be a little eerie.
When Stanley Kubrick‘s 2001: A Space Odyssey came out in April 1968, I was in seventh grade and already a hard-core science fiction fan. Back then, 2001 seemed so far off that anything was possible. We first walked on the moon just over a year later in July. (My beloved Star Trek had been on the air since September 1966!)
So it has been a little weird writing “20something” on checks, and every year it gets just a little weirder. The year 2014 sounds vaguely unreal somehow. The Jetsons lived in 2062, which isn’t terribly distant. (Science fiction can make for some odd tenses: to “have lived in 2062” sounds a little time twisted!)
Look at it this way: The Jetsons first aired in 1962, which is 52 years ago. It was set 100 years into the future at that time: 2062. That’s now only 48 years away. We’re now closer to the actual future time of the Jetsons than we are to their original air date!
I mentioned 2010 in the opening because that was the first of the 2001 sequels Arthur Clarke wrote. We have already passed the first sequel to 2001, but at least the next one isn’t until 2061 (which is coincidentally the era of The Jetsons).
[On a side note, 32-bit Unix clocks expire in 2038, only 24 years from now. The good news is that 32-bit systems should be as obsolete at 5-1/4″ floppies by then. For the younger folks: “as obsolete as 3-1/2″ floppies.” For the even younger folks: “as obsolete as keyboards or mice.” Is it possible we’re entering an era where, once again, the term “computer mouse” will make people wonder what the hell you’re talking about?]
It’s been half a century since The Jetsons and Star Trek. It’s almost forty years since the first Star Wars movie (in 1977), and exactly thirty years since Orwell’s 1984 (which actually came out 65 years ago in 1949).
Twenty years ago, if we try keeping to the science fiction theme, about the best we can do is Star Trek: Generations, which handed the movie franchise off from Captain Kirk to Captain Picard. (It was also the year of Stargate, a movie I dearly loved hating every moment of.)
It’s interesting that it’s harder to pick a notable SF media milestone in the mid-90s. There were many that were popular, and there are some very good SF films in that era (for example: Dark City, Pi, 12 Monkeys). But there were no real milestones. (Alien and Aliens were back in 1979 and 1986, respectively.)
The mid-90s is the rise of the Interweb (the Internet had been around for several decades by then). I think that — ironically — the world actually became a more boring place around then (and certainly more crowded). We’re increasingly awash in a sea of content: millions of “musicians,” millions of “writers,” millions of “artists” of all stripes. Every person is now a content generator of some kind.
The consequence: When was the last Beatles phenomenon? Or even, say, a Fleetwood Mac? How about a Blue Suede Shoes or a Gone With The Wind? When was the last The Grapes of Wrath or even Stranger In A Strange Land?
The classics of literature, music and film are classics because they endured a test of time; they remain engaging and interesting even to those familiar with them, and they continue to capture the interest of those who aren’t.
How much of the usually bland content of today survives the test of even a span of weeks (let alone months or years)? Diapers and cigarette lighters aren’t the only thing that’s become utterly disposable in our world.
Part of the problem is the sheer volume (really, in both senses of the word). When everyone is a content generator, and there are a lot of everyones, you end up with a whole lot of content! Finding the gems becomes a much harder task. How many forgettable bands can you watch on YouTube before finding one that blows you away?
As I’ve said many times, I think the Interweb is a real game-changer in society right up there on par with the printing press. Never have so many been so connected, and never has “publishing” your work been easier.
The truly mind-blowing thing is that it has all happened in the last twenty years!
I’m usually not one for looking back. I thrive on what comes next, not what’s in my rear view mirror. The past is done, one can only learn its lessons and move on. But sometimes there’s a vantage point that makes you pause and consider the path that brought you to now. The turn of the year is a traditional one; birthdays are often another.
As I look back at my year of blogging, or at the two-and-a-half years I’ve been publishing here, one thing is very clear: I am not a popular blogger! Not that I really expected to be, but by now I did think I’d find more of my own kind (few though they may be). I’m not sure if its due to being lost in the deluge of content — just try to find one drop of water in Niagara Falls — or if I bore even my own kind.
Oh, well, so it goes. Readers never were the main point; documenting “me” was the main point. (I’d just hoped me was a bit more interesting to you. Apparently, as in life, so in blog. I’ve had a lifetime of getting used to blank stares from, well, pretty much everyone, so it’s not as if it’s some new deal here.)
One thing I find rather interesting (and sometimes surprising) is which pages do end up being (at least somewhat) popular.
The most popular post in the past year was this one about Toyota Jan (and bacon). It weighs in at 339 views, which I suppose is small potatoes, but who knew Toyota Jan was so popular. (Shouldn’t be a surprise. Part of the point of the article was that the actress, Laurel Coppock, really does have a special something that lights up the screen.) I can tell from the search strings that it’s “Toyota Jan” they seek, not the bacon.
The post is third in the all-time stats (fourth if we include my Freshly Pressed post from 2011, which I generally don’t).
Runner up in the yearly stats (and I’m really gratified that this one got air time), is a post about Stan Lynde and his wonderful comic strip, Rick O’Shay. Mr. Lynde died not long after I wrote the post. That may be why the post has gotten as many hits as it has (302). I’m also hugely gratified I had the chance to actually email Mr. Lynde while writing the article; I almost missed that chance!
This post is fifth in the all-time stats (my About page ranks fourth).
In the third and fourth slots for the year are the two posts that are the most popular overall. The runner-up is a Page (rather than a Post) that covers the Code of the Bushido. It doesn’t surprise me at all this post is popular; the Code is entirely worthwhile, and it’s a pity it’s not widely followed.
The number one post overall, and in third place for 2013, is a surprise. It’s the post covering the old joke with the punchline, “Ready when you are, Mr. DeMille.” It’s a great joke, and I’m glad to see it’s popular, but…
The fact is, my two most popular posts (three if we include the FP post) are not original works of mine. Popularity would seem to depend on not using my own material. Funny how blogging ends up reflecting my real life (at least I did write the posts about Rick O’Shay and Toyota Jan).
But whatever. One day at a time, one step at a time, we move forward. Let’s ride this old rock around the sun one more time and see what happens. If the past fifty years tells us anything, it’s that you never can tell what comes next!