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Tattoos and T-shirts updated

by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright October 2013


I first came up with this Tattoos and T-shirts concept in 2002. It has remained a good predictor for the last decade. Now it's time for some updating.

The basic Tattoos and T-shirts concept is that old technologies will get swept away by newer better ones. But, if that old technology has a lot of personal expression built into it and its use, it will be displaced, but not disappear entirely. As an example of the difference, consider how quickly and completely various data recording technologies get swept away compared with fine art painting. Painting is a graphic recording technology that remains widely used in spite of faster, better and cheaper alternatives such as photography and computer graphics. It endures because there is a lot of personal expression involved in painting.

That's the basic concept. Here are some of my contemporary thoughts on examples of this phenomenon.

Driverless Cars and Driving

Someday soon, driverless cars will not only be possible, they will be imminently practical and widespread. They will be a lot faster, cheaper and better than human-driven cars at moving people around, so they will take over most of the heavy lifting in the task of getting people from place to place in an unstructured sequence. (For something structured, such as day-after-day commuting, other solutions, such as buses, may work out better.)

Ownership and use practices will change. Driverless cars will be handled more like taxis than like personally-owned cars. That way finding parking can become a forgotten art.

Will human-driven car driving go away when this era comes? Not likely! There is a lot of personal expression involved in car owning and driving. For this reason it is likely to endure much as horse riding and sail boating still do.

Not only will it endure in physical form, it will endure in cultural form. It will become the story telling format that symbolizes the late 20th/early 21st century, much as the Western story format symbolizes the late 1800's Old West lifestyle. How popular will it be? That's hard to say. Westerns were very popular during the 1940's-60's in the radio drama, TV, pulp fiction and movie making formats. Then they declined. We have seen the first examples of this upcoming driver-oriented entertainment genre in the Fast and Furious series of movies and Grand Theft Auto (GTA) computer games. Both of these have been surprisingly popular. In time, we will come to see Fast and Furious and GTA as the Lone Rangers of the car driver genre era -- the pioneers.

December Update: The big media and social media response to the death of Fast and Furious star Paul Walker is another example of the emotional grip this style of story telling has gained. Due to the spectacular and ironic nature of how he died I'm predicting he will become a cultural icon of the 2010's with an enduring role in the cultural icon pantheon similar to that of James Dean, icon of the 1950's.


--The End--

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