The Technium


[Translations: Japanese]

Someday in the near future my day will be like this:

In the morning I begin my screening while still in bed. I check the screen near my pillow for the time, my wakeup alarm, and also to see what news scrolls by. I screen the tiny panel that shows messages from my friends. I wipe the messages away with my thumb. I walk to the bathroom. I screen my new art works on the wall — these are more cheerful and sunny than the ones yesterday. I get dressed and screen my outfit in the closet. It shows me that the red scarf would look better with my shirt.

In the kitchen I screen the full news. I like the display horizontal in the table. I wave my arms to direct the stream of writing. I turn to the screens on my cabinets searching for my favorite cereal. A screen floating above the refrigerator indicates fresh milk inside. I reach inside and take out the milk. The screen on the side of the milk carton tries to get me to play a game, but I quiet it. I screen the bowl to be sure it is approved clean from the dishwasher. As I eat my cereal, I nod and the news stories advance. When I pay close attention, the news gets more detailed. As I screen further and deeper, the text has more links, denser illustrations. I begin screening a very long investigative piece on the local mayor, but I need to take my son to school.

I dash to the car. In the car, my story continues where I left off in the kitchen. My car screens the story for me, reading it aloud as a I drive. The buildings we pass along the highway are screens themselves. They usually show advertisements that are aimed at only for me, since they recognize my car. I usually ignore them, except when they show an illustration or diagram from the story I am screening. I screen the traffic to see what route is least jammed this morning. Since the car learns from other driver’s routes, it mostly chooses the best route, but it is not foolproof yet, so I like to screen where the traffic flows.

Minority Report Advertising

At my son’s school, I check the wall display in the hallway. I raise my palm and the screen recognizes me. It shows me my personal interface. I can screen my messages. I glance at the ones I want to screen in detail and it expands those. I wave some forward and others I swoosh to the archives. One is urgent. I pinch the air and I am screening a virtual conference. My partner in India is speaking to me. They are screening me in Bangalore.

I finally make it to the office. When I touch my chair, my room knows me, and all the screens in the room and on the table are ready for me. The eyes of the screens watch me closely as I conduct my day. After 16 years of watching me work, they can anticipate a lot of what I do. The sequence of symbols on the screens make no sense to anyone else, just as my colleagues’ sequence baffles me. When we are working together we screen in an entirely different environment. We gaze and grab different tools as we hop and dance around the room. I am a bit old fashion and still like to hold smaller screens in my hands. My favorite one is the same leather-cased screen I had in college (the screen is new, just the case is old). It is the same screen I used to create the documentary I did about the migrants sleeping in the mall. My hands are used to it and it is used to my gestures.


I can screen a realie in about an hour, speed screening the whole way. You should see the pads and streams go flying. When I get home, I try to slow down. I like to screen relax affirming visions on the walls. Although my son likes to screen adventure games, we limit it to one hour before dinner. During dinner we screen mood colors to center our meals. I will admit that we’ll sometimes screen questions about school work, or food ingredients, or trivia, but we try to keep those screens small. After dinner I like nothing better than to lay in bed and screen my favorite story on the ceiling till I fall asleep.


This scenario of mine appears in an anthology of 80 other short scenarios about the future of reading published as I READ WHERE I AM. The collected scenarios are diverse, intriguing and pretty good. This book is available in the Netherlands, from Valiz publishers.

  • A book about the future of reading… that isn’t available in digital format?

    Let’s talk about the future of transportation when I arrive at your place, which should be a few weeks by horse.

    • Kevin_Kelly

      Yes, it is very retro. The paper book also does some analog-ish tagging and hyperlinking. I think it is to make a point, but I am not sure what point.

  • That’s your creepiest vision of the future to date.

    • Kevin_Kelly

      I am with McLuhan on this one. Just because I see it does not mean I want to live there.

  • Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  • wyldr1

    A good description of Hell….

    • Jebadiah Moore

      I disagree; it sounds wonderful to me.

  • Adam

    I’d like to think that by the time this vision becomes a reality, the cars will be driving themselves…

    • Kevin_Kelly


  • I was kind of hoping that in the future written words could be turned into a viscous liquid that I could just ingest all the time.   I could wear a Fremen stillsuit and just add the word-goo from taps placed everywhere written words could be produced.  That way I can ingest information pretty much constantly.  

    Of course, this brings up the rather messy problem of elimination.  Which, if I’m ingesting all the time, I’m going to need to find a way to eliminate all the time as well.  

    Word-goo; mark my words. 

    • Kevin_Kelly

      Word-goo; wet my words.

  • Not a chance (1) it’s a dystopia (2) you totally missed gamifying (3) ditto most social selection (4) over-emphasis on sight compared to e.g. hearing.

    For me, this year’s best pointer to the future is that you could buy daffodil flowers like a vegetable in several supermarkets.Beauty is becoming an essential.

  • Tyranny might not infiltrate our country through the methods of war or politics like other nations were succumbed to in the past. If anything it’s more likely to arrive as a  ‘Subscription Service’ where many of our wants or needs can be easily supplied by a low monthly fee. This might sound great to many as long as we don’t mind owning fewer things and having an increasing amount of the things we do depend on controlled by ever-fewer yet ever-larger corporations.

    As long as ‘screening’ is an option in the future and people can happily opt out if they so choose without having their life significantly and negatively altered in the process then I welcome it. However if these particular technologies provide less freedom of expression and thought, offer fewer real and meaningful options, and demand even a greater allegiance to their host corporation then I think it’s safe to say that it’s a technology that’s in the wrong place and is being used immorally.

  • ET

    Where will the natural resources and energy needed to fuel this vision come from?

    • Kevin_Kelly

      Usual places.

      • ET

        yes but is there enough to power this kind of world?

        • Absolutely. Right under your feet.

  • John Bates

    the top photo is a still from the film Minority Report. But what is the photo at the bottom. Is it from a Trade Show?

  • This would easily give way to the tunnel ,  an all encompassing  screen that is  neurally  connected.