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Stories of the Past and Future

28 February 2015

From xkcd:


Link to this image plus much more at xkcd and thanks to Dave for the tip.

Books in General

10 Comments to “Stories of the Past and Future”

  1. I’m not sure I fully understand the graph, but the one idea I got was that at some point in the future we’ll be mostly writing stories about the present.

    Could that be a new definition for the singularity?—The point when humanity becomes so busy with the present, there’s no time to speculate about the past and the future.

  2. If you consider the ‘now’ line as a mirror, we try to use the past to guess what might be out there in our future. But the mirror is always moving towards the future, leaving the written story behind. And sometimes one little thing ‘changed’ in the past moves your tall tale from this universe to the one that the change took place …

    The story line I’m playing in was started by an Aussie (who is almost as nuts as I am), where in WWII with all of the other desperate things tried was the mixing of animal and human DNA, in the search of a ‘super troop’, and like the rocket tech, the winners took this home to study too …


    Somehow I reached excess without ever noticing when I was passing through satisfaction. — Ashleigh Brilliant

    The best prophet of the future is the past.

  3. Seriously? I think they’re using whale math here.

    • “Seriously?” There’s nothing serious about it — but every now and then they make you wonder if there might be something hidden in all the nothing … 😉


      Kludge, n.: An ill-assorted collection of poorly-matching parts, forming a distressing whole. — Jackson Granholm, “Datamation”

  4. The chart makes no sense to me. I don’t get the point if there was one.

    • If you accept that Mordor is near Saving Private Ryan, that puts the Misty Mountains up and along Moby Dick. After that, understanding the map is a piece of lembas bread. I think.


  5. I really liked this graph and the challenge of figuring it out.

  6. I have a feeling, after staring at the large version, that this is an illusion. The parameters by which he based the lines, a combination of simple math (the bottom line, which is based on the formula x=x and y=x*2), and the top line, based on possible versus obsolete tech, will converge toward today no matter what data you use.

    Mind, I’m not very good with math, so I’m going by what my instinct is throwing up. I don’t think we’re able to take anything away from it, except for his observation that stories from our past have elements set in an even future past, that nowadays we may take as real. For example, Shakespeare writing Henry V in 1599, about events that took place 180 years before his time.

    Maybe a doobie would help contemplation of that thought.

    • Getting even more confused. Shakespeare was writing historical fiction. We still do that. Do we take it for real? I don’t know. Maybe in a suspension of disbelief? Shakespeare used notoriously poor sources, by the way. The story he told was more important to him than mere fact.

  7. I’m assuming it’s a joke, right? I mean, this is xkcd of “Someone is wrong on the internet” fame.

    My problem is that the writing is so small that I have to zoom in to read it. Which means that I can only see about one-tenth of the whole thing and become hopelessly disoriented.

    I’d love it if someone who has better vision than I do and who gets the joke would explain it for me. 😀

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