Popular Culture

Love, Romance and the Androgynous Family

In the next 90 years, technological changes will help create the androgynous family. The Provider Role--the idea and practice that men should be the lead and primary bread winner--will have had it's death rattle long before the next century is very old. Men and women will both work and take turns caretaking home and family, depending on whose job pays more or who is working. There will be no expectation of whose work will take precedence based on gender. A good deal of that work will take place at home--the image of telecommuting envisioned in the 20th century will really happen in the 21st.

Technology will add to the blurring of gender. There is a good chance that more surrogacy will occur--and not just for infertile women, but for women who are highly paid and prefer not to have repeated pregnancies. There may even be ways to have children outside of the human womb, thereby reducing women's physical risks or greater claim to being the primary parent. Many fewer families will have children that have physical and mental disabilities since genetic testing will be much more precise and gene splicing will rectify most birth defects. Abortions will be rarer as contraception becomes automatic and foolproof. However, because genetic testing will be so exact, some parents will elect abortion if their fetus does not measure up to new societal standards of perfection.

Love and romance will still be extremely important and used as the means of justifying a relationship--and choosing to stay in a marriage--which means divorce will still be common. While we may undulate between times of high and low divorce ( based on economic trends) we should expect, especially with the extension of the average life span, that most people will have three marriages or more over their lifetime. Birth rates will be low, however, since cost of living will escalate, wealth will be divided over multiple marital break-ups, and single family housing will become harder to attain. Government will give subsidies for childbearing and childraising but only the very rich and the very poor will have more than two children in their lifetime.--Sociology Professor Pepper Schwartz

Good-bye Football, Hello "Rollerball"?

Within the next 90 years, skyrocketing players' salaries and a less attractive product to the media and fans may doom professional sports as we know it. The reduction or elimination of opportunities to play professional sports could also change the face of college athletics. Perhaps the NBA and the NFL will finally decided to create their own farm systems, similar to what major league baseball is currently doing. Those athletes coming out of high school who do not want to go to college can go directly to a farm system where they can be developed athletically and prepared for a professional career. Those athletes who do want to go to college for an education and also play college ball will have that option, too. With this option, you may not see the "best" players but you'll see players who are committed to truly being "student-athletes." I think this commitment will also improve relations between coaches and players because there will be less pressure on both parties to win at all costs.

Who knows? Professional and college sports could be raised to the level of sport not unlike the movie Rollerball, where athletes were deified and the fans' sole interest was to see someone maimed or killed in the roller rink. There is a disturbing trend in sports, fueled by the avarice of the professional ranks and the uncontrolled zealousness and expectations of fans. Hopefully, collegiate sports can steer clear of this pathway and eternally commit to education as its focus.--Senior Associate Athletics Director Ralph Bayard

War Between Printed Page and Electronic Media

Right now there is a war going on between the printed page and electronic media. In 90 years, I have hope that both will have survived, that people will not abdicate the book. It was easier to ignite the imagination of my students in the past; they did not depend so much on visuals. If they had a favorite song, they didn't have a visual that automatically went along with it. Now it is virtually impossible to separate the visual from anything else. So I foresee some problems in teaching the arts, writing, creativity. The artificial eye, the artificial brain can't replace the real thing.

I have a story that I've never finished. It was my "raid" into futuristic writing. In that world the book had been discontinued. Official readers dramatized the book---they made the book come to life. They had this ability to memorize all the particular words in a book. One of them gets into trouble because she has a real book--not that books have been banned, but that paper is so scarce, resources are scare. When I started it in 1975 I thought it was futuristic. I'm not sure it's futuristic anymore.--Creative Writing Professor Colleen McElroy

Advertising More Personal, and More Intrusive

Traditional forms of advertising and advertising agencies will be long gone. But as long as capitalism exists, advertising will exist in some form. It will find a way. Advertising will be able to speak directly to the individual instead of the mass market. It will be much more segmented and personal, more intrusive, than talking to a whole bunch of people. You will see it coming in the next five years as the Internet becomes much more forceful. You will get a strong hint of the future in the next five years."--Jim Riswol, partner, creative director and copywriter, Wieden & Kennedy ad agency.

Photography: You Can't Replace a Person's Eye

Photography is changing so rapidly it is almost hard to keep up with it now, let alone think of the next 90 years. The change from film to digital images will continue, and films, cameras and digital equipment will get even smaller, more portable and more sophisticated.

The technology is definitely driving this industry and to stay on top you have to be aware of and using the latest technology available. But it is still up to the person. You can't replace a person's eye, the composition of an image, or sensitivity to light. I consider myself a Neanderthal, a romantic, who loves art. But we may not be talking about film in the future. It may be all digital. In a few years, I might have the ability to be in Africa photographing an elephant or a lion and then beam that image back to my office in Seattle so a magazine could use it. I wouldn't have to wait a month to have my film processed. And I see this coming on the consumer level as well. Films, if they exist, will be so fine grain you can do just about anything with them and still have an excellent image. Just in the past five years, for instance, the sophistication of autofocus cameras has changed the kind of work I can do. It used to be inaccurate and trying. Now I can capture images I couldn't before because these camera systems are so fast, definitely faster than my reflexes.

As a professional I have to keep up and buy the latest gadgets because this business puts bread on my table. But keep in mind, all the technology in the world doesn't replace a person's eye and composition, and those are what make for unforgettable images. And that is what we are really after.--Art Wolfe, wildlife photographer

Scandals Continue, But Reporting Won't Be Any Easier

In 90 years, the newspaper will be delivered electronically. Even so, some antique people will cherish the feel of paper. They'll get a hard copy from a printer that's attached to the food-and-news delivery modem in the kitchen.

Ninety years form now, there will be no phone lines, but I hope we will still have a democracy and an aggressive media. We will peer into the government's business using some sort of electronic gizmo that connects us directly to the people's data.

Even so, reporting won't be any easier. The society will be just as plagued by liars 90 years from now as it is today. Governments will restrict the flow of information, and the only thing that will open the spigot will be a series of painful scandals. Reporters will need the same detective skills that are used today. Maybe they won't drive around in automobiles but they will hunt for sources and ask tough questions--unless we no longer have a democracy.

Future reporters will dwell on war, corruption, greed and the other foibles. I can only hope they discover better ways to reflect the lives of common people. I can only hope that they don't forget the poor and the afflicted in their fascination with the wealthy.-- Eric Nalder, reporter, Seattle Times

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