LEFT: Surfer Kathy Kohner Zuckerman, about whose surfing adventures her father Frederick Kohner wrote the 1957 novella Gidget
(Fun fact: This cute Californian Jewish teenager grew up and married a Yiddish scholar from New York. Worlds collide.)
I was so excited last night to read in the novel Venus Plus X thoughts about changing technology--about facing the future--from within the era whose design I've been looking at (the pre-Star Trek mid-twentieth century).
With a few changes of names, the author's psychology of change--his advice to lean into the future like a surfer--still holds, fifty-some years later:
From Venus Plus X (1960), by Theodore Sturgeon:
"He remembered reading an ad in a magazine listing ten quite common items on a shopping list,
aluminum foil, an anti-biotic cream, milk in cartons, and the like,
and pointing out that not a single one of these things could be had twenty years ago.
If you lived in a technology like that of the mid-twentieth century,
you were there to see the vacuum tube displaced by the transistor and that by the tunnel diode,
while in one ten-year period the artificial satellite moved from the area of laughable fantasy to a hunk of hardware broadcasting signals from the other side of the sun.
"There were a lot of people living in his time who never did latch on to the idea that the curve of technological progress was not a flat slanting line like a diving board,
but a geometrical curve like a ski-jump.
"Unable to get the big picture, they welcomed the conveniences,
the miniaturization of this and the speed of that,
and then they were angrily surprised when their support of these things
changed their world.
Well he... seemed always to have been aware that progress is a dynamic thing,
and you had to ride it leaning forward a little, like on a surfboard
because if you stood there flat-footed
you'd get drowned."