British Telecom’s Vision of the FutureSpeculative Design
BT’s 1969 speculation on how communication might work in the future.
It is pretty hilarious although to its credit, the hilarity has less to do with the technologies proposed and more to do with the acting. The piece is in fact surprisingly insightful in using believable, understndable technology not too far divorced from what was available at the time in a way that seemed like a logical extension and a straightforward improvement over the existing communication methods. There are two parts that stand out to me, however. First, using a modified version of a photo development rig in order to create a little dark room around the screen and effectively take a low-tech screenshot is ingenious.
Second, I am a big fan of the slight stutter and the clearly bad signal preventing the communication from going completely smoothly. BT in their design fiction acknowledged that technology is prone to malfunction and instead of trying to hide it, they included a slight technical hiccup in the demonstration as a way of grounding their fiction and giving it an air of plausibility.
Of course this is particularly elevant precisely because of that little glitch. At this point, I have decided to explore glitches and technical issues in my speculative fiction while asking the question of what is the significance of technical issues in a time where technology and our bodies are one and the same.