The thirty year echo

A friend who had read yesterday’s post pointed out to me, quite correctly, that there was a history of serious grown-up television well before the 1970s.

I had been well aware of the “Goldedn age of television” in the 1950s, which included such programs as Playhouse 90 (“Requiem for a Heavyweight”, “Judgment at Nuremberg” and quite a few other brilliant broadcasts), but I had decided not to mention them because this early trend toward serious adult content hadn’t lasted. By the 1960s it was mostly gone, except in little isolated bits and pieces, such as moments in “The Twilight Zone”.

Yet now that I think about it, the parallel to the history of VR is uncanny. About thirty years before now, Jaron Lanier was pushing hard for Virtual Reality. His company VPL was quite the thing in its day, with people heralding VR in 1986 as the next wave of computer graphics.

A few years after that came Fakespace Labs, in which Ian McDowall, Mark Bolas and others produced extremely high quality VR, albeit at extremely high prices.

I wonder whether there is some pattern here. If you look at any given cultural shift that suddenly appeared and took the culture by storm, perhaps you can often find an echo of it thirty years earlier.

If so, then maybe we should call this principle the “thirty year echo”.

One Response to “The thirty year echo”

  1. sally says:

    Mike Fischer calls it the “Fischer 15 year rule” — seeing shorter cycles of 15 years, rather than 30. Maybe content rules are different than techology rules. Seems like one would enable the other.

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