1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

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Re: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

Postby Kit. » Wed Feb 25, 2015 3:47 pm UTC

cellocgw wrote:I'm not quite sure what Ed Tufte would think of this chart.

Exactly my thoughts.

The effect of the irregularly spaced axes on supposedly linear ("still possible/obsolete" and "X/2X") boundaries is especially annoying.

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Re: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

Postby PinkShinyRose » Wed Feb 25, 2015 3:59 pm UTC

Is there really much of a difference between being set in 1700 and written in 1800 or being set in 1700 and written in 2015? It's something you really only notice when it's either a timetravel piece, or when you research the author/metadata before reading/playing it (okay, there is the exception where, in some cases, you may notice differences in language use/video quality).

Sleet wrote:That's an awesome chart. I was a bit surprised to see Raptor Red (a great read, but it never seemed all that well known over here) on there among all the other great stories, especially with so many others left to be added.

Though I guess there aren't that many stories set in the 'tens of millions of years ago' bracket.

There's Dinosaurs, The Land Before Time, and Dinosaur. All set close enough to tens of millions of years ago to not make much of a difference on the chart. I think many timetravel comedies also have a scene set around that time. I can't think of any older works set between the 1 Myear and 1 Gyear before publication though.

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Re: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

Postby edanite » Wed Feb 25, 2015 4:04 pm UTC

Here's a version with isochrons added. I've only added ones that aren't approximately horizontal. This is also a linear approximation on a logarithmic scale, which isn't valid, but it's fast.
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Re: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

Postby Quercus » Wed Feb 25, 2015 4:09 pm UTC

The Once and Future King would be a long downward pointing arrow from the x axis to about 1500 years in the past.

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Re: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

Postby sevenperforce » Wed Feb 25, 2015 4:49 pm UTC

PinkShinyRose wrote:Is there really much of a difference between being set in 1700 and written in 1800 or being set in 1700 and written in 2015? It's something you really only notice when it's either a timetravel piece, or when you research the author/metadata before reading/playing it (okay, there is the exception where, in some cases, you may notice differences in language use/video quality).

Well, there's going to be a pretty big difference in prose between 1800 and 2015...probably an immediately recognizable one. But apart from that, there's the issue of information. Authors in 1800 had information about 1700 that today's authors don't have, and today's authors have information about 1700 that authors in 1800 didn't have. Inside jokes and cultural references (e.g. #794 are more likely to be lost over time, whereas modern authors are more likely to have accurate information about specific facts and events and locations which an author in 1800 wouldn't necessarily have.

So the 1800/1700 piece would probably have more idioms and more inside jokes but a greater chance of anachronism and inaccuracy.

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Re: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

Postby mikael » Wed Feb 25, 2015 4:52 pm UTC

edanite wrote:Here's a version with isochrons added

Thanks for your work. I think that explains why this chart was so confusing to me in the first place.
On the other hand, I find the mere concept of multidimensional time quite hard to make sense of. Am I the only one?

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Re: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

Postby Saibot » Wed Feb 25, 2015 4:55 pm UTC

sevenperforce wrote:
Eogan wrote:Which "Gospels" is he talking about? Because I'm pretty sure the Biblical ones were set a little more than 24-80 years ago. 0.0

The gospels were written in the late first century CE (horizontal axis), but were set 24-75 years before they were written (vertical axis).

The vertical axis is how many years separated the setting and the writing. That's why things like the Epic of Gilgamesh and Genesis are very low on the chart, because they were set hundreds-thousands of years before they were written. The Gospels, the Pillow Book, and the History of the Peloponnesian War are the only things written particularly long ago which were set less than a century before they were written.

Randall should have put about a 1-pixel slant in the line representing the Gospels to show that they were written over a period of time.

The reason the vertical axis is relative is to allow it to show which things were originally history/period fiction and which things were originally science fiction. As drunken points out, it's kind of misleading to have the Big Bang at the bottom of the scale because it's relative, not absolute.


I could be completely wrong, but I rather think Randall chose Genesis as the bottom data point of the shaded region intentionally, so that the entirety of the Bible would be considered obsolete. The compression of larger dates actually skews the Biblical representations considerably. Genesis is traditionally accepted to have been written/compiled by Moses in the mid-1300s BCE (though Randal's positioning palces it closer to 800 BCE - indicating he rejects the traditional dating in favor of a later compilitation by other Hebrew historians). Whichever date you choose, it's describing a period starting around 6000 BCE - a separation period of >4500 years. Whereas the Gospels were all written, as you point out, between 20 to 80 years after Christ's accepted life.

At any rate, the Bible's obsolesence is, I believe, greatly exagerrated. No matter where you come down on the belief/non-belief/contempt spectrum regarding the Bible, it's impact on society and culture around the world, and particularly in Western culture, is pervasive and ongoing. Unless I'm completely misunderstanding the shaded area - only in the top section is it labeled as obsolete. I'm not really sure what it means for accounts of past history to be obsolete, unless it means they are shown to be useless for understanding history. Which, again, no matter where you come down on the Bible, certainly doesn't apply to the Bible. In it's historical touchpoints, it has been shown to be reliable and a useful reference source. Really the intermingling of fiction with non-fiction makes the bottom portion of the chart mostly irrelevant, IMO.

Unlike most of Randall's charts, this one is not a simple (if very cool) representation of factual data; it incorporates a strong interpretational bias.

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Re: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

Postby XbHW_TestEngr » Wed Feb 25, 2015 4:56 pm UTC

... all this intellectual conversation, and all I can think about is the Flintstones theme song ... (sigh)
... and there will be cake.

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Re: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

Postby Krealr » Wed Feb 25, 2015 5:44 pm UTC

Saibot wrote:I could be completely wrong, but I rather think Randall chose Genesis as the bottom data point of the shaded region intentionally, so that the entirety of the Bible would be considered obsolete.



You need to look at the chart some more.

Hint:
The shaded area of the top part represent obsolete, the shaded area of the bottom part represents something else.

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Re: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

Postby brittnileigh » Wed Feb 25, 2015 6:26 pm UTC

I've spent many hours trying to explain this interesting phenomenon to people (and learned it's really only interesting to me, until now!). I always use the movie example The Sting, which was released in 1973 but set in the 1930's. When I saw this movie a few years ago, my mind kept making me think it was just a movie filmed and set in the 1930's. And if I thought that, being of sound mind and KNOWING it was made in the 70's, what are people going to think 50 years from now? Everything that we think as a period piece will just... be.

What I'm trying to say is... The Sting should be on this chart. And I'm delighted that this topic is finally articulated in a way others can understand.

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Re: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

Postby sevenperforce » Wed Feb 25, 2015 6:27 pm UTC

Saibot wrote:I could be completely wrong, but I rather think Randall chose Genesis as the bottom data point of the shaded region intentionally, so that the entirety of the Bible would be considered obsolete.

Unless I'm completely misunderstanding the shaded area - only in the top section is it labeled as obsolete. I'm not really sure what it means for accounts of past history to be obsolete, unless it means they are shown to be useless for understanding history.

The "obsolete" section is only for prediction or science fiction, indicating that the date has already passed. The corresponding shaded region on the bottom is what counts as "former period pieces" because, as he states, these are documents "created long enough ago that they were published closer to their setting than to today." Rather than being useless or obsolete, they function as a sort of "double history": they not only give us information about the period they are set in, but they give us a information about the period they were published in.

In contrast, things on the other side (A Connecticut Yankee, The Ten Commandments, Gunsmoke, Chariots of Fire, Schindler's List) are less historically useful because their publication is more recent compared to the period described, and so we are likely to already have much more information about that period than the publication can provide. Stuff on the left/top side are more likely to be useful as historical sources simply because they are closer to the events described than we are. For example, A Tale of Two Cities is much more useful to modern audiences for understanding the French Revolution than Annie is for understanding the 1930s even though there was more time between the French Revolution and A Tale than there was between the 1930s and Annie.

The compression of larger dates actually skews the Biblical representations considerably. Genesis is traditionally accepted to have been written/compiled by Moses in the mid-1300s BCE (though Randal's positioning palces it closer to 800 BCE - indicating he rejects the traditional dating in favor of a later compilitation by other Hebrew historians). Whichever date you choose, it's describing a period starting around 6000 BCE - a separation period of >4500 years. Whereas the Gospels were all written, as you point out, between 20 to 80 years after Christ's accepted life.

Because there are portions of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy written well before certain portions of Genesis, Randall really should have had a vertical line representing the whole Torah, like he had for the Gospels. If you're going to go by the compilation date, at least. There are portions of the Yahwist source which likely date as far back as the 1100s BCE even though the final compilation took place after 500 BCE.

The Documentary Hypothesis isn't universally accepted anymore, but its insights typically are. By way of explanation, here's the distribution of sources in Torah:
Spoiler:
Image

So to more accurately depict where Torah ought to be, the graph should show something more like this:
DWbase.png

You're probably surprised by how far up the graph it goes, but consider that the latest events in Torah lead up to the conquest of Canaan, events which (if they happened at all), most likely started in the last two centuries of the second millenium BCE. In contrast, the earliest portions of the Yahwist source were probably written around 1100-900 BCE. So the shortest gap between the events described and the earliest records is only a little over a century.

You'll also notice that this depiction means the Torah crosses that defining line between "more historically useful" and "less historically useful". Which matches what we know. Some parts of Torah are historically useful; some parts are not. You can, if you wish, follow those isochrons edanite created; moving to the left means your source is comparatively more historically useful; moving to the right means your source is comparatively less historically useful. You can't, however, use this to jump between isochron lines, because not all history is created equal; some periods are darker than others.

If Randall had included the entire New Testament rather than the Gospels alone, the line would extend all the way up to the 0 of the y-axis because some of the events depicted in the New Testament actually took place after other portions of the New Testament were written.

In it's historical touchpoints, it has been shown to be reliable and a useful reference source.

At any rate, the Bible's obsolesence is, I believe, greatly exagerrated. No matter where you come down on the belief/non-belief/contempt spectrum regarding the Bible, it's impact on society and culture around the world, and particularly in Western culture, is pervasive and ongoing.

Torah in particular is not terribly reliable in its historical touchpoints, though certain portions of the rest of the Old Testament are slightly more reliable. It really comes down to genre. Yes, large portions of the Old Testament were attempts by the original authors to record actual events to the best of their ability, but the end product has been revised, redacted, rewritten, and rearranged numerous times for various political and religious reasons. The historical usefulness of those portions only becomes apparent where we are able to peel back those layers. And if you misidentify genre (for example, by looking at the first few chapters of Genesis as an attempt at recording historical events rather than as a grand cosmic drama) then you'll really be missing the point.

Randall typically does not exhibit a radical exclusionary atheist/antitheist bias...he's pretty good about reflecting the scholarly consensus.

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Re: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

Postby Jackpot777 » Wed Feb 25, 2015 6:37 pm UTC

Shouldn't "Saving Private Ryan" stretch all the way from "set 55 years ago" to the axis, as the beginning of the film is set in the present day when Ryan and family visit the grave of Ryan's fallen friends?

And I have a problem with "2061: Odyssey Three" being in the 'still possible' area, seeing as Jupiter steadfastly remains a gas giant planet these past four-and-a-bit years / Heywood Floyd hasn't been on the the Pasteur orbital hospital since 2011 after a fall (slowly becoming accustomed to the one-sixth gravity environment of the station).

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Re: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Feb 25, 2015 6:54 pm UTC

drachefly wrote:
pfhorrest wrote:if there were a time-travel story set in 1885 wherein they go back in time to 1855... I don't think I'd be able to tell the difference in the eras at all, and probably wouldn't really care.


Maybe in some parts of the world, but in the USA, that difference is pretty drastic. Hoo-ee. It's maybe the same difference as from 1959 to 1989. Probably bigger.

Can you elaborate? I was thinking of the US, and specifically of the fact that BBTF III does take place in 1885, in the Old West, and I would expect 1855 in the same location to just be... older west. I suppose back east there were some big events in between those two dates (civil war), but what are the obvious visible differences between the two periods that a modern viewer would really notice?

(It does really weird me out to think that things like the Old West, the Civil War, Victorian England, and Japanese samurai all coexisted at the same period of time; in my mind it feels like those are progressively older and older settings).
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Re: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

Postby Dave Moore » Wed Feb 25, 2015 7:10 pm UTC

I loved the chart. Now all as we need is one with all the Doctor Who episodes on it.

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Re: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

Postby Coyoty » Wed Feb 25, 2015 9:35 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:Withnail & I became a "former period piece" ten years ago. I find this hard to get my head around. In one sense, I'm particularly sensitive to the difference between the two time periods, because it was made when I was a teenager and set before I was born. On the other hand, I didn't see it until my 20s, and the "period" detail is so well done that it's not obvious that it wasn't made in the time in which it was set.


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Re: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

Postby Boilerplate » Wed Feb 25, 2015 10:10 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:...BBTF III does take place in 1885, in the Old West, and I would expect 1855 in the same location to just be... older west. I suppose back east there were some big events in between those two dates (civil war), but what are the obvious visible differences between the two periods that a modern viewer would really notice?


Data points for the difference between 1855 and 1885 in the Western US:

1857: Steel first used for rails
1865: First Pullman sleeping car
1869: Transcontinental Railroad
1882: Second transcontinental railroad (Kansas to New Mexico)

Six Western states were admitted to the Union during that time.

Here is the rail map of the US in 1855 (You basically couldn't get past Illinois then, but in 1885 the nation was fully connected):
http://www.retrosnapshots.com/by-subjec ... O5Ihy6mBXA

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Re: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

Postby mattcoz » Wed Feb 25, 2015 10:34 pm UTC

boltzmann wrote:No Blade Runner?

I too looked straight for it. Released in 1982 and set in 2019, 37 years in the future. Just barely in the "still possible" realm, but a lot will need to change in the next 4 years. It would have been a tight fit to have it on there along with 2010.

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Re: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

Postby usr » Wed Feb 25, 2015 11:23 pm UTC

dodgy geezer wrote:"Dr Who" would occupy a large shaded rectangle stretching from top to bottom of the picture, and from 1963 to the present day.

That's around half of the whole figure...


My thoughts exactly. I'd call it the Doctor Who Equator: a vertical line at 1963 separating the half-plane with the doctor from the one without (ignoring the occasional hiatus)

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Re: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

Postby FireandAir » Thu Feb 26, 2015 1:07 am UTC

The "former period piece" comment made me think of the corresponding category of "former contemporary fiction," with the first thing that popped to mind being the Sherlock Holmes stories. I remember hearing that Doyle was also a writer of historical novels, and that they were his great love. He was quite disappointed that the Holmes novels -- cheap contemporary tales to him -- were so much more popular as he wanted to be remember for his period novels. The one thing he didn't bank on happening was that the Holmes stories would be so good and so beloved for so long that they would become period fiction; nothing evokes the bygone era of gaslit London better.

I don't think one could represent this on a graph, though. I think something only becomes "period" after its fashions have returned as "retro." I guess Edwardian London would have become "period" after the appearance of the teddy-boy in the 1950s, then.

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Re: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Feb 26, 2015 1:15 am UTC

I think that would fit on the graph perfectly well. It's the horizontal line down the center; things that were written 0 years before or after their publication. If we still remember them today, then they would seem to us like period pieces (if they're from long enough ago for the setting to feel like a period distinct from our own), but they would have originally been contemporary fiction at the time of their publication.
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Re: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

Postby FireandAir » Thu Feb 26, 2015 1:18 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:I think that would fit on the graph perfectly well. It's the horizontal line down the center; things that were written 0 years before or after their publication. If we still remember them today, then they would seem to us like period pieces (if they're from long enough ago for the setting to feel like a period distinct from our own), but they would have originally been contemporary fiction at the time of their publication.


That's the thorny part, though -- how far is "long enough ago?" I'm kneading my brain trying to come up with various cultural ways to make that determination, and the only one I can think of is retro fashion, when we start thinking of The Past™ as something that we can or should reach into and reconstruct at will. I definitely don't think there is a mathematical way to define it, although it would be interesting to see whether or not there is an unrecognized trend in the amount of time that needs to pass before something becomes "retro."

ETA: I'm wondering now if it isn't two human generations à la the old saying that what the child seeks to forget, the grandchild seeks to remember. That second generation seems to be the one that becomes fascinated by all the stuff two generations back.

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Re: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

Postby pelrigg » Thu Feb 26, 2015 1:34 am UTC

Chuq wrote:
pelrigg wrote:This really needs to have the blow-up chart treatment like Up-goer Five, Gravity Wells and the Movie narrative. Perhaps latter today. Randall will post one.


http://xkcd.com/1491/large/

But I think it needs to be even larger than that!


Thanks for posting that. But I swear when I looked at the site in those first fifteen minutes the comic won't "click" (and yes I tried). Which is why I said "latter today". I just didn't know it would be twenty minutes later. Of course by then I was already in bed.
Yes I think an even larger version would be great. (Maybe in another twenty minutes from NOWA there will be a version on sale in the shop.

Steroid wrote:I want to see where "The Last Question" fits.


I was wondering the same thing. And it would be fun to see where Asimov's Foundation series and robot stories would go. In fact, aren't some of the robot stories in the "obsolete" area? (Yes, I know I could google for an timeline.)

Pfhorrest wrote:
Spoiler:
The concept of "former period pieces" applied to Back To The Future makes me feel really weird. Like, from my perspective it's obvious how totally different the 50s and the 80s are... though I have remarked recently that the present of 2015 seems more like 1985 than it does what they thought 2015 would look like back in 1985. (And oddly enough, that projected 2015 also seems more like 1985 than it does the real present 2015).
But what really makes me feel weird is that, if there were a time-travel story set in 1885 wherein they go back in time to 1855... I don't think I'd be able to tell the difference in the eras at all, and probably wouldn't really care. And it's really disconcerting to realize that some day people looking back on Back To The Future will feel that way about its story. "Oh wow, they travel from the late-mid 20th century to the mid-mid 20th century! And oh my, how different everything was then </sarcasm>".


I'm just going with some second hand information here, but in the movie Somewhere In Time (released 1980) the guy travels from the late 1970's to 1912. When he gets there people are looking at him as being "old-fashioned" because his choice of clothing was ten years out of date.
When we look back at things and say "What's the big deal? There's not much difference."; someone contemporary to that date would say "No, there's a huge difference." (Heck, look at the difference in cell phones from when they started to where they are now. {Buzzfeed had one of those "slider" comparison "articles" about how much the characters in "Friends" had changed from the first year to the last. There was a cell phone bonus with one of the gals because she had a cell phone in both pics.})

Just think, plus or minus 50 years centered on the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk, means that the American Civil War, the first airplane flight, and the atomic bomb are "contemporary".
Actually, this kind of a fun game: Pick a date. Pick a time spread. Then imagine somebody in the future having events from both ends of that spread as being concurrent.

A As in, the time from when this is posted.
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Re: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Feb 26, 2015 1:37 am UTC

i've heard it said that we are "running out of retro". I forget the exact examples listed, but to the Romans ancient Egypt was retro, to Victorian England Rome was retro, skip a few... to the 1950s the Old West was retro, then by the 70s you had 50s retro, which seemed to be the trend for a while as by the 90s the 70s were retro, and the conclusion of the semi-satirical article I originally read this in was that some time around now we would run out of retro, the past would catch up to the present and there would be some kind of ahistorical periodlessness where anything goes.
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Re: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

Postby FireandAir » Thu Feb 26, 2015 1:47 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:i've heard it said that we are "running out of retro". I forget the exact examples listed, but to the Romans ancient Egypt was retro, to Victorian England Rome was retro, skip a few... to the 1950s the Old West was retro, then by the 70s you had 50s retro, which seemed to be the trend for a while as by the 90s the 70s were retro, and the conclusion of the semi-satirical article I originally read this in was that some time around now we would run out of retro, the past would catch up to the present and there would be some kind of ahistorical periodlessness where anything goes.


I think we might just reach further and further back to find it, ex. steampunk. But yes, this may be the curse of postmodernism. I've noticed that on YouTube, where to the generation of kids who are growing up with it as always having been there, Dizzy Gillespie, Gary Numan, and Sarah McLaughlan are all contemporaneous. It's all become a sort of "eternal now."

That's really interesting, though ... the whole idea of how that gap between now and retro seems to be becoming shorter. Back in the day (like the 1600s day) ancient Greece was retro. I recall that that's how they invented opera, by trying (and failing) to come up with what ancient Greek theater must have been in their understanding. (Turns out they were wrong so far as WE know :-) and that they ended up making a very new art form.)

Very chewy idea ...

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Re: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

Postby PinkShinyRose » Thu Feb 26, 2015 4:21 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:i've heard it said that we are "running out of retro". I forget the exact examples listed, but to the Romans ancient Egypt was retro, to Victorian England Rome was retro, skip a few... to the 1950s the Old West was retro, then by the 70s you had 50s retro, which seemed to be the trend for a while as by the 90s the 70s were retro, and the conclusion of the semi-satirical article I originally read this in was that some time around now we would run out of retro, the past would catch up to the present and there would be some kind of ahistorical periodlessness where anything goes.

Isn't it still just 20 years? I think the 90s still do fine, with their lava lamps, exposed bellybuttons and Internet.

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Re: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

Postby RogueCynic » Thu Feb 26, 2015 4:22 am UTC

I haven't studied the graph nor have I read all the posts. The alt text is all I needed.
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Re: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Feb 26, 2015 4:48 am UTC

PinkShinyRose wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:i've heard it said that we are "running out of retro". I forget the exact examples listed, but to the Romans ancient Egypt was retro, to Victorian England Rome was retro, skip a few... to the 1950s the Old West was retro, then by the 70s you had 50s retro, which seemed to be the trend for a while as by the 90s the 70s were retro, and the conclusion of the semi-satirical article I originally read this in was that some time around now we would run out of retro, the past would catch up to the present and there would be some kind of ahistorical periodlessness where anything goes.

Isn't it still just 20 years? I think the 90s still do fine, with their lava lamps, exposed bellybuttons and Internet.

Weren't lava lamps already a retro thing from the 70s by the 90s? And... did exposed bellybuttons and Internet go out of style and then come back again this decade? I thought those things have just been around constantly since their introduction. (That's obviously rhetorical regarding the Internet, but I have no idea about fashion trends at all. I dress like it's the 1600s every day).
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The Codex Quaerendae (my philosophy) - The Chronicles of Quelouva (my fiction)

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Klear
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Re: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

Postby Klear » Thu Feb 26, 2015 10:09 am UTC

FireandAir wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:i've heard it said that we are "running out of retro". I forget the exact examples listed, but to the Romans ancient Egypt was retro, to Victorian England Rome was retro, skip a few... to the 1950s the Old West was retro, then by the 70s you had 50s retro, which seemed to be the trend for a while as by the 90s the 70s were retro, and the conclusion of the semi-satirical article I originally read this in was that some time around now we would run out of retro, the past would catch up to the present and there would be some kind of ahistorical periodlessness where anything goes.


I think we might just reach further and further back to find it, ex. steampunk. But yes, this may be the curse of postmodernism.


I think postmodernism might already be retro. Today it's more of neo-post-modernism.

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oauitam
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Re: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

Postby oauitam » Thu Feb 26, 2015 1:19 pm UTC

Klear wrote:
FireandAir wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:i've heard it said that we are "running out of retro". I forget the exact examples listed, but to the Romans ancient Egypt was retro, to Victorian England Rome was retro, skip a few... to the 1950s the Old West was retro, then by the 70s you had 50s retro, which seemed to be the trend for a while as by the 90s the 70s were retro, and the conclusion of the semi-satirical article I originally read this in was that some time around now we would run out of retro, the past would catch up to the present and there would be some kind of ahistorical periodlessness where anything goes.


I think we might just reach further and further back to find it, ex. steampunk. But yes, this may be the curse of postmodernism.


I think postmodernism might already be retro. Today it's more of neo-post-modernism.


That is such a 2014 thing to say.

If anyone has spotted "Primer" on the graph, could they point it out please?
http://xkcd.com/657/

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Re: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

Postby Saibot » Thu Feb 26, 2015 1:36 pm UTC

sevenperforce wrote:
Saibot wrote:I could be completely wrong, but I rather think Randall chose Genesis as the bottom data point of the shaded region intentionally, so that the entirety of the Bible would be considered obsolete.

Unless I'm completely misunderstanding the shaded area - only in the top section is it labeled as obsolete. I'm not really sure what it means for accounts of past history to be obsolete, unless it means they are shown to be useless for understanding history.


The "obsolete" section is only for prediction or science fiction, indicating that the date has already passed. The corresponding shaded region on the bottom is what counts as "former period pieces" because, as he states, these are documents "created long enough ago that they were published closer to their setting than to today." Rather than being useless or obsolete, they function as a sort of "double history": they not only give us information about the period they are set in, but they give us a information about the period they were published in.

In contrast, things on the other side (A Connecticut Yankee, The Ten Commandments, Gunsmoke, Chariots of Fire, Schindler's List) are less historically useful because their publication is more recent compared to the period described, and so we are likely to already have much more information about that period than the publication can provide. Stuff on the left/top side are more likely to be useful as historical sources simply because they are closer to the events described than we are. For example, A Tale of Two Cities is much more useful to modern audiences for understanding the French Revolution than Annie is for understanding the 1930s even though there was more time between the French Revolution and A Tale than there was between the 1930s and Annie.


Thanks @sevenperforce, that clears it up. Not sure how I managed to ignore that big explanatory paragraph in the middle of everything.

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Re: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

Postby orthogon » Thu Feb 26, 2015 2:05 pm UTC

oauitam wrote:
Klear wrote:
FireandAir wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:i've heard it said that we are "running out of retro". I forget the exact examples listed, but to the Romans ancient Egypt was retro, to Victorian England Rome was retro, skip a few... to the 1950s the Old West was retro, then by the 70s you had 50s retro, which seemed to be the trend for a while as by the 90s the 70s were retro, and the conclusion of the semi-satirical article I originally read this in was that some time around now we would run out of retro, the past would catch up to the present and there would be some kind of ahistorical periodlessness where anything goes.


I think we might just reach further and further back to find it, ex. steampunk. But yes, this may be the curse of postmodernism.


I think postmodernism might already be retro. Today it's more of neo-post-modernism.


That is such a 2014 thing to say.

I thought the consensus was that we are simply "post-post". Then again, it was some time ago that I heard that...
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

Postby Boilerplate » Thu Feb 26, 2015 2:49 pm UTC

pelrigg wrote:(Heck, look at the difference in cell phones from when they started to where they are now.


Exactly. A recent episode of "Better Call Saul" (the excellent "Breaking Bad" spinoff) gave us all we needed to know that we were in a deep flashback to Saul's youth when his older brother surrendered a giant "brick" mobile phone when visiting Saul in prison.

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orthogon
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Re: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

Postby orthogon » Thu Feb 26, 2015 4:28 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
PinkShinyRose wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:i've heard it said that we are "running out of retro". I forget the exact examples listed, but to the Romans ancient Egypt was retro, to Victorian England Rome was retro, skip a few... to the 1950s the Old West was retro, then by the 70s you had 50s retro, which seemed to be the trend for a while as by the 90s the 70s were retro, and the conclusion of the semi-satirical article I originally read this in was that some time around now we would run out of retro, the past would catch up to the present and there would be some kind of ahistorical periodlessness where anything goes.

Isn't it still just 20 years? I think the 90s still do fine, with their lava lamps, exposed bellybuttons and Internet.

Weren't lava lamps already a retro thing from the 70s by the 90s? And... did exposed bellybuttons and Internet go out of style and then come back again this decade? I thought those things have just been around constantly since their introduction. (That's obviously rhetorical regarding the Internet, but I have no idea about fashion trends at all. I dress like it's the 1600s every day).

Lava lamps were definitely around in the '70s, and made a comeback in the '90s. I wonder whether that was because the original idea went out of patent, leading to the market being flooded with cheap versions. As I remember it, plasma balls, which had been in museums since the late '80s, became affordable to students around the same time. Both were discovered to complement perfectly the ambient electronic music of the era, not least when consumed in conjunction with various "recreational pharmaceuticals", also widely available.
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

Postby rmsgrey » Thu Feb 26, 2015 4:54 pm UTC

pelrigg wrote:Just think, plus or minus 50 years centered on the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk, means that the American Civil War, the first airplane flight, and the atomic bomb are "contemporary".
Actually, this kind of a fun game: Pick a date. Pick a time spread. Then imagine somebody in the future having events from both ends of that spread as being concurrent.


Or just watch Xena: Warrior Princess, who hung out with Caesar and was present at the fall of Troy - and treated as contemporary people that lived something like 2700 years apart (Caligula and Gilgamesh). That's worse than someone in the year 4000 having Socrates hanging out with Queen Victoria...

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Re: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

Postby Quercus » Thu Feb 26, 2015 4:56 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:I thought the consensus was that we are simply "post-post". Then again, it was some time ago that I heard that...

How long do you reckon it will be before we need some sort of postn notation?

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Re: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Feb 26, 2015 6:36 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:
pelrigg wrote:Just think, plus or minus 50 years centered on the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk, means that the American Civil War, the first airplane flight, and the atomic bomb are "contemporary".
Actually, this kind of a fun game: Pick a date. Pick a time spread. Then imagine somebody in the future having events from both ends of that spread as being concurrent.


Or just watch Xena: Warrior Princess, who hung out with Caesar and was present at the fall of Troy - and treated as contemporary people that lived something like 2700 years apart (Caligula and Gilgamesh). That's worse than someone in the year 4000 having Socrates hanging out with Queen Victoria...


This makes me think of cosplayers from the future. Don't Have A Cow Man doesn't even have a cow!
Forrest Cameranesi, Geek of All Trades
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The Codex Quaerendae (my philosophy) - The Chronicles of Quelouva (my fiction)

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Re: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

Postby Neil_Boekend » Thu Feb 26, 2015 6:48 pm UTC

Quercus wrote:
orthogon wrote:I thought the consensus was that we are simply "post-post". Then again, it was some time ago that I heard that...

How long do you reckon it will be before we need some sort of postn notation?

Post-post=0
Mikeski wrote:A "What If" update is never late. Nor is it early. It is posted precisely when it should be.

patzer's signature wrote:
flicky1991 wrote:I'm being quoted too much!

he/him/his

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Re: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

Postby AndrewGPaul » Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:08 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:
pelrigg wrote:Just think, plus or minus 50 years centered on the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk, means that the American Civil War, the first airplane flight, and the atomic bomb are "contemporary".
Actually, this kind of a fun game: Pick a date. Pick a time spread. Then imagine somebody in the future having events from both ends of that spread as being concurrent.


Or just watch Xena: Warrior Princess, who hung out with Caesar and was present at the fall of Troy - and treated as contemporary people that lived something like 2700 years apart (Caligula and Gilgamesh). That's worse than someone in the year 4000 having Socrates hanging out with Queen Victoria...


That's the premise of SJGames' Diana, Warrior Princess RPG. From its Wikipedia page,
"The game is a parody of Xena: Warrior Princess, and its setting tries to portray the present day with the same level of accuracy that Xena portrays Ancient Greece – i.e. not much. Historical figures are distorted and confused with each other. Diana, Princess of Wales rides around in shining white motorcycle leathers on a semi-sentient motorcycle, doing battle with the war-god, Landmines, and "Bonnie Prince" Charlie, from whom she took her mystic powers of royalty.

Diana is aided by Fergie, the barbarian "Red Ken" and "Wild Bill" Gates, while Tony the Vampire Slayer battles the sorceress Thatcher and her masked assassin Archer. The milieu also includes figures who lived before the twentieth century such as Emperor Norton, Queen Victoria and the "disease" lepus (described as a scriptwriting error since lepus is actually a reference to rabbits and not leprosy as the scriptwriter intended)"

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Re: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

Postby PsiSquared » Fri Feb 27, 2015 2:34 am UTC

Quercus wrote:
orthogon wrote:I thought the consensus was that we are simply "post-post". Then again, it was some time ago that I heard that...

How long do you reckon it will be before we need some sort of postn notation?


Have you been living in a cave since yesterday? We're way past simple recursion by now.

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Re: 1491: "Stories of the Past and Future"

Postby Spectrum » Fri Feb 27, 2015 4:04 am UTC

It's interesting how little speculative fiction goes into the future. Most of it is confined to the next 1,000 years or so. IIRC, Niven's "The Ethics of Madness" extends several hundred thousand years into the future. The maximum I know of is Olaf Stapledon's "Last and First Men", whose time scale goes to 5 trillion years in the future (!), and that endpoint is labeled "Apart from accidents Earth would still have been habitable".


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