Were movies inevitable?

There is a strong argument that movies were inevitable. We are, after all, a storytelling species, and we seem to turn any available tool toward the task of telling stories.

In 1800, movies were pretty much unthinkable. In 1900, they were a budding novelty. By 2000 they had, in many ways, long displaced all other forms of storytelling.

Of course there were key geniuses who advanced the medium at many points in its development. But even in the absence of specific individuals such as Edison, the Lumière brothers or Eisenstein, others would have taken up the challenge.

The gating function, I think, was not the genius of any individual, but the emerging technological possibility itself. Once technology had advanced to the point where movies were possible, they were bound to be invented and developed in short order — because we are humans, and that’s what we do.

One reason I find this line of thought fascinating is in its implications for possibilities in the future. What storytelling technology is just now emerging, which today seems like a mere novelty, but will soon grow in its influence by leaps and bounds?

In short, what will be the successor to movies?

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