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I once saw the future, but now it’s cloudy

POSTED: January 1, 2012 1:00 a.m.

I opened the mail the other day and found that a dear friend had sent me a newspaper clipping from 30 years ago.

I was a young TV reporter of 21 and had been invited to address the Professional Secretaries Association in Tifton. The Tifton Gazette dispatched a reporter and photographer to cover the event.

The photograph shows a much thinner and younger version of me. I wish I could go back to that.

The association asked me to impart some of my 21 years of wisdom. I did.

Bear in mind that this was 1982 and CNN was only 2 years old. ESPN would turn 3 that year.

I suggested that cable TV was in the process of changing television, as it offered a whopping 28 channels at the time.

Who would have ever thought we would have hundreds of channels, including more than a dozen devoted to sports and news alone?

I suggested to the secretaries, many of whom were still adjusting to electric typewriters, that they might one day have a computer on their desks, and that some already were using fancy electronic word processors.

They probably went home thinking this guy is nuts.

I also told them that television was changing because we were no longer using film to record news stories.

Prognosticating the future has never been my forte. I predicted MTV would never make it. I might have been half right on that one. Gone are the days when they played music videos around the clock. Now, they run a plethora of so-called “reality” shows.

I used to watch Dick Tracy cartoons on TV and thought it was a bit far-fetched that Tracy could talk into his wristwatch to his crime-fighting colleagues like Go-Go Gomez, Joe Jitsu and Hemlock Holmes. Now folks are watching videos on phones that are about the size of the one Dick Tracy wore on his wrist.

I think there are now more phones than there are people. I carry a personal phone and one for work. I couldn’t have dreamed that up.

So as we move into 2012, I don’t know that I have enough foresight or imagination to predict what is next.

I don’t know if I should be pleased or saddened that I am pretty savvy on pop culture. I can recognize Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and Jay Z. I can recognize Lady Gaga most of the time.

I can operate a computer very well and participate on Facebook, but not Twitter.

If some enterprising reporter, or whatever they are called in 2042, looks back on this column, I’m sure Twitter and Facebook will be the equivalent of 8-track tapes today.

I’ll be 81, and based on my current retirement plan, will be just a few years from retiring.

Until then, I hope to continue visiting in this space for as long as they will have me. A year ago, I thought I was hanging up my column writing spurs, but a few months later, I was back.

Whatever 2012 holds for all of us, I hope that it brings good health, prosperity and a bright outlook for all.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on gainesvilletimes.com/harris.



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