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Interview From 1999 Shows David Bowie Predicting the Rise of the Internet

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Back in 1999 it was easy to view the World Wide Web as a passing fad. Google was a year old, Facebook was about five years down the road, and most people were still using noisy dial-up to get online. But as this video shows, the internet had an early advocate in David Bowie

The 18-year-old interview was recently shared by Paleofuture on the one-year anniversary of the musician’s death. In it, Bowie makes a case for the internet as the new frontier for “the subversive and possibly rebellious and chaotic and nihilistic ...”

His interviewer, BBC host Jeremy Paxman, isn’t quite convinced. Paxman claims that the internet “is just a tool” and that its potential has been “hugely exaggerated,” making Bowie’s predictions feel even more uncanny. Bowie foretells of the growing role the audience will have in the art: “I really embrace the idea that there’s a new demystification process between the artist and the audience,” he says. “... The interplay between the user and the provider will be so in sympatico it’s going to crush our ideas of what mediums are all about.”

The interview also a features a few charming Bowie-isms, like his tongue-in-cheek characterization of the web as “an alien lifeform.” While some of his ideas may have sounded far-out in 1999, they mostly ring true today. “I don’t think we’ve even seen the tip of the iceberg,” Bowie said. “I think the potential of what the internet is going to do to society, both good and bad, is unimaginable.” You can watch the interview in its entirety below.

[h/t Paleofuture]

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History
Marshall McLuhan, the Man Who Predicted the Internet in 1962

Futurists of the 20th century were prone to some highly optimistic predictions. Theorists thought we might be extending our life spans to 150, working fewer hours, and operating private aircrafts from our homes. No one seemed to imagine we’d be communicating with smiley faces and poop emojis in place of words.

Marshall McLuhan didn’t call that either, but he did come closer than most to imagining our current technology-led environment. In 1962, the author and media theorist (who is the subject of today's Google Doodle) predicted we’d have an internet.

That was the year McLuhan, a professor of English born in Edmonton, Canada on this day in 1911, wrote a book called The Gutenberg Galaxy. In it, he observed that human history could be partitioned into four distinct chapters: The acoustic age, the literary age, the print age, and the then-emerging electronic age. McLuhan believed this new frontier would be home to what he dubbed a “global village”—a space where technology spread information to anyone and everyone.

Computers, McLuhan said, “could enhance retrieval, obsolesce mass library organization,” and offer “speedily tailored data.”

McLuhan elaborated on the idea in his 1962 book, Understanding Media, writing:

"Since the inception of the telegraph and radio, the globe has contracted, spatially, into a single large village. Tribalism is our only resource since the electro-magnetic discovery. Moving from print to electronic media we have given up an eye for an ear."

But McLuhan didn’t concern himself solely with the advantages of a network. He cautioned that a surrender to “private manipulation” would limit the scope of our information based on what advertisers and others choose for users to see.

Marshall McLuhan died on December 31, 1980, several years before he was able to witness first-hand how his predictions were coming to fruition.

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Apple Unveils Zombie, Yoga, and Breastfeeding Emojis
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Apple

We’ve been so very patient, and now the wait is almost over. That’s right: the sandwich emoji is coming soon. Apple announced the long-overdue addition, plus others, in celebration of World Emoji Day.

This latest suite of pictograms and smileys has been in the works since autumn of 2016, when the folks at Emojipedia proposed 51 new icons, many created in response to user requests. Apple took those ideas and applied their own graphic twist, as they're wont to do.

Illustration of four smiley emojis: one with starry eyes, one with an exploding head, one vomiting, and one with rolling eyes and a lolling tongue.
Apple

An Apple press release described the T. rex, zebra, zombie, and elf emojis as “a fun way to describe situations.” We’re not sure exactly what those situations could be; clearly, we’ve been living our lives the wrong way.

In addition to the long-awaited sandwich, we’ll also be getting a pretzel, a slice of pie, and a coconut; a person wearing a headscarf; a woman breastfeeding; a guy with a hipster beard; and a dude doing yoga.

Apple has not provided a release date, although some have speculated that the new emoji will be included in iOS updates in autumn of 2017.

[h/t The Verge]

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