Friday, December 31, 2010

Where’s My Personal Hovercraft?

You don’t have to be a dedicated science fiction fan to realize that the 21st century hasn’t, so far, lived up to its billing. The moon base and space flight to Jupiter in the well-known 2001 movie still seem like science fiction as we head into 2011. The personal hovercraft that was supposed to become our primary means of transportation isn’t even on the drawing board. And setting aside the gee-whiz technology of science fiction stories, the movement toward a more peaceful, enlightened civilization also seems to have been sidetracked. You almost have to ask, what were we doing with this last decade? Was it all a big mistake?

Never fear. Progress doesn’t proceed in straight lines and can’t be accurately measured by what you see on the surface. For New Year’s Day, 2011, we can say “Take two!” and start the new millennium rolling all over again — but incorporating some of the loose ends we developed, but weren’t quite able to use, over the past ten years or so.

I think of this in terms of the difference between a crystal and a laser. A laser is a crystal, but with power added so that it can project its geometric structure as a coherent beam of light. The new century so far has been taking shape mostly in the dark — with basically nothing happening in the business world or in the corporate-owned media, and with relatively little talk about the new things that are happening. Now it’s time to turn on the laser and see what we’ve got.