diamond geezer

 Thursday, January 27, 2011

The home of the future is empty.

There are no books in the home of the future. Books aren't needed any more, they're simply clutter. If you're after celebrity memoirs, upload an e-book. If you want Dickens, get the app. If you need an atlas, check an online map. Encyclopaedias are like, so dead already. Who needs books when you've got screens? Who wants rows of dusty spines clogging valuable wall space when a Kindle swallows the lot? Empty the shelves and join the on-demand library instead. Books are for grandads, grandad.

There are no printed words in the home of the future. Newspapers aren't needed any more, nor magazines. Catch up on the latest political scandal on your tablet. Try the crossword on touchscreen. Read the sauciest celeb gossip in your kitchen on wi-fi. Who needs once a week when you can get regular updates? Who needs once a day when you can get rolling headlines? Clear the coffee table and fire up your iPad instead. Words are instant, two-way, temporary.

There are no compact discs in the home of the future. Physical music formats aren't needed any more, everything's digital now. Dubstep samplers and Dvorák's third, always available. Everything the Rolling Stones ever wrote, at the touch of a button. Lord Cowell's latest protégé, streamed to any room in the house for a one-off fee. A vast music library hidden behind the scenes, whenever you want it. But nothing that's actually yours. Nobody owns music any more, they only borrow it.

There are no DVDs in the home of the future. Disc-based audio-visual formats aren't needed any more, because everything streams. Fancy a film, just click, it's here. Lazy box-set on the sofa, premium Disney movie, 3D porn flick, your choice. It's just how Blockbuster video used to be, except withdrawal and return are instantaneous. Cherrypick your favourite bits from thousands of disassembled TV channels, anytime. Lie back and fill your big screen, all for a very reasonable subscription.

Bin your printed photographs and upgrade to projected images. Switch to electronic mail and seal up your letterbox. Scan your archived paperwork and shred all the evidence. Paper has no point and ink has no place. Everything's going digital, pixellated, virtual. Empty that corner where the television once sat and get used to watching the wall. Turf out your clutter, clear your surfaces, and throw out the physical. The living room of the future is nothing but screens and furniture.

Nobody owns stuff in the home of the future. Everything exists only in The Cloud, at the whim of your online service provider. That film's only yours for two hours, that album's transfer-protected. Your record collection's nothing but a list of bookmarks, your photos all vanish once the subscription ends. Your books all need updating once a new format comes out, and your emails won't survive a change of provider. Data's no longer close at hand, but far away. There's nothing concrete left to own, and nothing personal to pass onto your kids. The price of choice is the abdication of control.

The home of the future is empty.


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