Friday, 29 June 2012

I have seen the future and it is a parking meter

I have been reading William Gibson's excellent Pattern Recognition and thinking about how speculative and science fiction have shaped the world today. Gibson, along with other luminaries like Syd Mead and Bruce Sterling, have an uncanny knack of detecting and extrapolating from cultural and technological trends to show us a future utterly convincing in its logic and design. Reciprocally, we have been seduced by their visions and we shape our developments accordingly.

With all this bouncing around my skull I was stopped dead this week when I encountered what must qualify as the world's most terrifying parking meter. It sported a vast array of buttons, keys, decals and instructions. Although it features none of the refined design Mead imbued his version with, the thing does resemble the meters in Blade Runner.

Mead had predicted the need for full QWERTY keyboards, card payments and instructional text, all wrapped up in a rugged design. This speaks volumes about Blade Runner's portenous nature and its impact on the world today. Indeed, the only thing that is inaccurate is the film's portrayal of all municipal services as bloated, corrupt and shambolic institutions. Oh, wait a minute...

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