The rumors are already circulating, and some of us are confident enough so as to be completely certain that television as we know it is breathing its last breath. Ditto radio, telephone, driving our own cars and newspapers (really, anything that is in print). The rise of new technologies and changes to social norms have long been disruptive forces requiring the end of one medium to make room for others. On-demand subscription services provide much greater freedom of when and what to consume. And the portability of modern technology makes us think of anything hard-wired as more akin to a dog chained to a tree than to a contemporary mobile lifestyle.
Still, one doesn’t have to be too old to remember the Walt Disney promise of the City of Tomorrow. Taking a break from the long lines and hot weather of family summer vacation, we’d board the PeopleMover from a giant roundabout with the attached cars being propelled along by rubber tires embedded in the track. There, we’d find a respite from the heat and “learn” a bit about what the future would be. Flying cars? Sure, why not? No crime, hunger, or human condition? Plan on it. Utopia? Seems reasonable.
Well, the years have passed and a Disney CEO whose name was not Disney closed the ride and its accompanying optimism for the future. We still don’t have flying cars, perfect humans, or Utopia. In fact, as most of us mature into adulthood, we realize that these dreams are either silly, impractical, or downright impossible. But what has remained is that people still want to escape the summer sun occasionally when spending the day outside and to imagine a future of wonder and opportunity. If we are sure to adapt, what do we keep and what do we leave behind?