Pre-science/Prescience and the History of the Future

Just a quick post to direct our readers’ attention to this week’s themed issue of the New York Times “Science Times” on “The Future of Computing.” There are some cool interactive features and a series of interesting profiles on computing visionaries. Given recent posts on scientists and cinema and science and literature, I wanted to highlight this interview with SF author Neal Stephenson. I must confess to not being a huge fan of his prose, but I have recently developed significant academic interest in how science fiction colonizes the future.

A big part of history of science as a discipline involves paying attention to how people have envisioned the future and how that vision was received. Why not start bringing more attention to science fiction into that endeavor? There’s a reason that the word for having knowledge of things before they happen is “prescience.”

Someone who is giving this a lot of attention is Patrick McCray. He’ll be speaking on the subject of “Visioneering” at UPenn’s Department of History and Sociology of Science colloquium this coming Monday.

Anyone out there got some thoughts on the history of the future?

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