Happy new decade!

Of course, for the pedants, the new decade actually starts on January 1st 2011 but, as with the millennium, I guess we may as well take the opportunity to celebrate twice.

What a decade we’ve had, eh?

Financially, the first one of the 21st century has been very much a rollercoaster  ride for the world and many of the people within it. The 21st century didn’t start overly well and the last decade finished on the worst downer for many a year. The last time it was so serious was way back in the 1930s and that took the 2nd world war to pull the world out in the end. This time, supposedly, we know better and have had loads of time to develop economic theories which’ll pull us out. Sounds good, but the minor fly in that ointment is that we went into this depression with those theories in place and they obviously didn’t work too well, did they?

Technologically the 21st century has been a major disappointment. Not only do we not have the promised flying cars predicted (well, not yet) but we’ve lost supersonic commercial travel, almost lost the hovercraft, lost the amphibious cars that we had in the 1960s and still don’t have a moon base. On the plus side we do have a space station, the beginnings of commercial space travel and the Mars mission is back in the frame. Electonics-wise the computers are lots faster, the storage lots bigger and we think nothing of “image processing” these days because even the cheapest digital camera does much more of it than the NASA computers ever did for the moon shots. From the science fiction world we can buy the Star Trek communicators for virtually nothing and the PAD (ebook reader) sales are finally taking off. Yet to come are things like warp drive (several theories postulate potential ways of doing it but it’s on the distant horizon) and the transporter (one that seems to have all kinds of theoretical and ethical problems at present).

Socially, we have all the tools in place from 1984 and have only the totalitarian state remaining to complete the picture. That’s perhaps the most worrying development in many ways as the technology making the 1984 scenario possible seems much more effective than the version sketched out in the novel would ever have been. On more positive fronts, the derogatory “self-publishing” of yesteryear is now everywhere and so widespread that we don’t even have a collective term for it these days.

So what’s likely to come up during the coming decade? All being well financially things will get back on an even keel though somehow I suspect that it’s likely to be past the mid-point of the decade before we can truly say we’re getting through to the promised land. We still won’t have a base on Mars but at least we should be seeing the first stages of serious design for the mission well before 2019. Computers will, as always, be a whole lot faster and the storage will fill up just as quickly. Somehow I can’t see us going for the 300 megapixel cameras that would be doable by 2019 but I imagine that 3D ones will be the order of the day by then. Books may well have bitten the dust by then as the ebook readers should be in full colour and probably 3D capable by 2019 with a price close to that of a single hard back book. Time travel seems to be gaining a growing interest so perhaps we’ll even see the earliest developments on that front during the decade which is the one thing I reckon would spur on the first contact with aliens (sorry guys, but warp capable civilisations would present virtually no danger compared to those that could travel in time).

What about moi? Well, James will have gone through primary school and be close to starting university by 2019 which is a whole heap of changes to think about. Assuming that I continue on my present rambling journey through the OU I will have clocked up at least one more degree and perhaps getting around to settling down to do a doctorate by then. Dear knows where we’ll be living by then. I’d be betting that it won’t be France but aside from that who knows? Work-wise, it’s hard to believe but I should be within spitting distance of retirement by that point.

So Happy New Decade! Here’s hoping that the new one will at least finish much better than the last one did.

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