1311: 2014

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2014
Some future reader, who may see the term, without knowing the history of it, may imagine that it had reference to some antiquated bridge of the immortal Poet, thrown across the silver Avon, to facilitate his escape after some marauding excursion in a neighbouring park; and in some Gentleman's Magazine of the next century, it is not impossible, but that future antiquaries may occupy page after page in discussing so interesting a matter. We think it right, therefore, to put it on record in the Oriental Herald that the 'Shakesperian Rope Bridges' are of much less classic origin; that Mr Colin Shakespear, who, besides his dignity as Postmaster, now signs himself 'Superintendent General of Shakesperian Rope Bridges', is a person of much less genius than the Bard of Avon. --The Oriental Herald, 1825
Title text: Some future reader, who may see the term, without knowing the history of it, may imagine that it had reference to some antiquated bridge of the immortal Poet, thrown across the silver Avon, to facilitate his escape after some marauding excursion in a neighbouring park; and in some Gentleman's Magazine of the next century, it is not impossible, but that future antiquaries may occupy page after page in discussing so interesting a matter. We think it right, therefore, to put it on record in the Oriental Herald that the 'Shakesperian Rope Bridges' are of much less classic origin; that Mr Colin Shakespear, who, besides his dignity as Postmaster, now signs himself 'Superintendent General of Shakesperian Rope Bridges', is a person of much less genius than the Bard of Avon. --The Oriental Herald, 1825

[edit] Explanation

Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Needs information on how much has come true, also information in general. This is also the longest title text?
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

The comic includes many predictions from the 1800s and early 1900s. Many of them are for the twenty-first century in general, and only three specifically mention 2014 (two of them as in "a century from now").

  • "It's desirable every thing printed should be preserved, for we cannot now tell how useful it may become two centuries hence." (1834)

A good idea. Now, with Google Books, this can be done in an easier manner, although unfortunately the prediction failed because many books printed between that time and the wide-spread usage of higher-quality wood-pulp paper in the early 1990s are either no longer known to exist, are heavily damaged (mostly through deterioration (see slow fire) or are very scarce.

  • "I predict that a century hence the Canadian people will be the noblest specimens of humanity on the face of the earth" (1863)

Notably, there is a common joke nowadays that Canadians are always calm, mellow, polite peoples, even when insulting others. The rest of the quote goes as follows: "all that was good in the Celt, the Saxon, the Gaul and other races, combining to form neither English, Irish, nor Welsh, but Canadians, who would take their place among the churches of Christendom and the nations of the earth." This religious prediction probably wasn't believed even by its author. It's only a harangue.

  • "In the twenty-first century mankind will subsist entirely upon jellies." (1903)

Concentrates, which are gelatine like, form a large part of our food sources. Absurd if taken literally, but if he's talking about processed foods in general then he's not too far from the mark.

  • "The twenty-first century baby is destined to be rocked and cradled by electricity, warmed and coddled by electricity, perhaps fathered and mothered by electricity. Probably the only thing he will be left to do unaided will be to make love." (1905)

Probably an exaggeration even in its time, but still valid to some degree, as many electronics are used in rearing children today. From incubators, warming blankets, walkie-talkies, etc to the TV. On the same coin, however, these are merely tools of assistance; the process of child-rearing is still a human task by and large. Of course, with Viagra, Cialis, vibrators, and other kinkier toys, we don't even have to make love unaided.

  • "To-day, in the city of New York, sixty-six different tongues are spoken. A century hence, there will probably be only one." (1907)

False. The number of languages spoken in New York City is believed to be greater than 100; some estimate as many as 800 languages are spoken there. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that in the greater New York metropolitan area, almost 7 million people speak a language other than English at home, including over 3.5 million who speak Spanish, 2 million who speak other Indo-European languages, 1 million who speak Asian or Pacific Island languages, and 300,000 who speak other languages. Also, New York City is the location of the headquarters of the United Nations, with diplomats from nearly every country in the world, and several official languages.

  • "I often think what interesting history we are making for the student of the twenty-first century." (William Carey Jones, 1908)

Referring to the events that led to World War I. In 1908, Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina. This led to the Sarajevo Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in 1914 that is considered the starting event of the World War.

  • "China may be a great shoe market a decade or a century from now." (1914)

While it is true in 2013/14, the context behind it was false, as the premise originally was that the business in the western world could export shoes to China, when currently, most of the shoes are actually manufactured in China itself and exported to western world. Ironically though, the profits from the shoe selling go to overseas companies.

  • "We cannot settle the problem, and I venture the prophecy that perhaps a century from now this same question may be brought before some future society and discussed very much as it is tonight." (1914, on abortion)

True - it is still heavily debated.

  • "By the twenty-first century we shall all be telepaths." (A character in Aldous Huxley's novel Antic Hay, 1923)

Since the quote talks about natural telepathy this prediction has not been fulfilled. Wikipedia article on Telepathy states: Scientific consensus does not view telepathy as a real phenomenon. On the other hand, the widespread use of mobile phones allows us to communicate with many people from almost anywhere we're likely to be. More context for this prediction [1]: "And it's my firm belief," said Gumbril Senior, adding notes to his epic, "that they [the birds] make use of some sort of telepathy, some kind of direct mind-to-mind communication between themselves. You can't watch them without coming to that conclusion." [...] "It's a faculty," Gumbril Senior went on, "we all possess, I believe. All we animals." [...] "By the twenty-first century, I believe, we shall all be telepaths. Meanwhile, these delightful birds have forestalled us."

  • "The physician of the twenty-first century… may even criticize the language of the times, and may find that some of our words have become as offensive to him as the term "lunatic" has become offensive to us." (1924)

The word "lunatic" is still considered derogatory and because of that it would never be used in a clinical sense. At the time this was written, more specific terms such as "schizophrenic" were preferred, but now the noun use of that term (i.e., referring to the patient as "a schizophrenic") is itself deprecated in favor of more humanizing terms like "a patient with schizophrenia." He correctly predicts the trajectory of terms like "mentally retarded", itself adopted by his day to replace earlier terms for the intellectually disabled, such as "moron" and "imbecile", which had become pejorative. Soon enough the word "retard" joined them in that regard, and it now has largely been abandoned as a medical term.

  • "Historians of the twenty-first century will look back with well-placed scorn on the shallow-minded days of the early twentieth century when football games and petting parties were considered the most important elements of a college education." (1926)

While media still encourages such images, colleges have started to become much more career oriented. Also, due to incidents involving sex-themed frosh weeks, there has actually been a greater emphasis to condemn sexual activities among college students.

  • "In the year A.D. 2014 journalists will be writing on the centenary of the great war — that is, if there has not been a greater war." (1934)

July 28, 2014 marks 100 years since the beginning of World War I (popularly called "The Great War" at the time), thus journalists will definitely write articles of this war. More than 9 million combatants were killed. However, unfortunately, there was a greater war, World War II, which killed around 25 million soldiers and an even greater number of civilians. Due to the larger scope, easily identifiable heroes and villains, and other factors, the second war occupies a much greater place in our collective memory.

The title text refers to a certain British officer, Mr. Colin Shakespeare, who experimented and promoted the use of rope suspension bridges in India, apparently for the ease of colonization and military operations.[2] The reference to "River Avon" is about the river of Avon in Warwickshire, Stratford upon Avon being the town where Shakespeare (the playwright) was born and where he lived until his early twenties. The author is aware of the potential confusion that might result after decades or centuries have washed away the context, a topic xkcd has previously covered in 771: Period Speech. As such, the author makes a point to separate the two Shakespeares.

[edit] Transcript

(This is a series of quotes from various people of various timeframes. Each quote is followed by the author, the document of publication if applicable, and the year.)
Notes from the past
It's desirable every thing printed should be preserved, for we cannot now tell how useful it may become two centuries hence.
Christopher Baldwin
1834
I predict that a century hence the Canadian people will be the noblest specimens of humanity on the face of the earth
Rev. John Bredin
1863
In the twenty-first century mankind will subsist entirely upon jellies.
The Booklover
1903
The twenty-first century baby is destined to be rocked and cradled by electricity, warmed and coddled by electricity, perhaps fathered and mothered by electricity. Probably the only thing he will be left to do unaided will be to make love.
Mrs. John Lane, The fortnightly
1905
To-day, in the city of New York, sixty-six different tongues are spoken. A century hence, there will probably be only one.
The American Historical Magazine
1907
I often think what interesting history we are making for the student of the twenty-first century.
Willian Carey Jones
1908
China may be a great shoe market a decade or a century from now.
Boot and Shoe Recorder
1914
We cannot settle the problem, and I venture the prophecy that perhaps a century from now this same question may be brought before some future society and discussed very much as it is tonight.
Dr. Barton C. Hirst on the subject of abortion
1914
By the twenty-first century I believe we shall all be telepaths.
Gumbriel, character in Antic Hay
1923
The physician of the twenty-first century… may even criticize the language of the times, and may find that some of our words have become as offensive to him as the term "lunatic" has become offensive to us.
Dr. C. Macfie Campbell
1924
Historians of the twenty-first century will look back with well-placed scorn on the shallow-minded days of the early twentieth century when football games and petting parties were considered the most important elements of a college education.
Mary Eileen Ahern, Library Bureau
1926
In the year A.D. 2014 journalists will be writing on the centenary of the great war — that is, if there has not been a greater war.
F.J.M, The Journalist
1934
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Discussion

Just a note that the PNG file for this comic is (or was initially) actually a TIFF file with a PNG extension. 108.162.236.19 05:37, 1 January 2014 (UTC)

And now it's fixed. 173.245.54.45 06:07, 1 January 2014 (UTC)

I presume most of the quotes are genuine, but surely Randall has made up the one about subsisting on jellies? 141.101.99.219 11:08, 1 January 2014 (UTC)

I wouldn't be so sure. The Book-Lover - Vol. 4. (No. 17 to 22) 1903 contains Poe, Edgar Allan and Dickens, Charles and Emerson, Ralph Waldo ... maybe it refers to some of Poe's horror stories? -- Hkmaly (talk) 12:10, 1 January 2014 (UTC)
Spherical jelliies and creams were very fashionable in the era in which it was written, so it may have been simply a prediction of great luxury for the future. 108.162.237.4 14:37, 1 January 2014 (UTC)(Kyt)
Here's the Book-lover reference: [3]
Two sections from the H.G. Wells book it came from (When the Sleeper Wakes):
"There were several very comfortable chairs, a light table on silent runners carrying several bottles of fluids and glasses, and two plates bearing a clear substance like jelly."
"They gave him some pink fluid with a greenish fluorescence and a meaty taste, and the assurance of returning strength grew."
-- Jim Gillogly 108.162.215.15 16:50, 1 January 2014 (UTC)
Ok ... William Carey Jones quote: [4] ... I would say that while technically true, he didn't meant it because he doesn't refer to first world war but instead some problems of American democracy which were probably forgotten ... -- Hkmaly (talk) 12:21, 1 January 2014 (UTC)
Christopher Baldwin: [5] ... I would say good luck with preserving everything printed :-), but the idea is certainly good and projects like Google Books are attempting to solve the problem he was talking about. -- Hkmaly (talk) 12:25, 1 January 2014 (UTC)
Actually, no. Google Books is trying to make printed books accessible on-line. That does not make them more preserved, just more accessible. Paper books (provided they're printed on acid-free paper) are actually more likely to be preserved and readable two centuries from now than are electronic media, which must be periodically refreshed. 173.245.54.87 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Both paper books and electronic media must be periodically refreshed. Electronic media must be refreshed more often, but on the other hand, they may be refreshed more quickly. Compare time it takes to reprint book (even if you use scanner, OCR and high-speed printer) with time it takes to copy the PDF from older HDD to newer. If we manage to evade World War III, it is easily possible the folder "all data obtained in 2014" will still exist in Google datacenters, safely mirrored to all locations, thousands years after all paper printed today will turn to dust. Archaeologist of 40th century wouldn't dig real dirt, they would dig in exabytes of digital archives, trying to find the real important stuff between stuff someone stored simply because storage capacity was cheap enough. (On the other hand, if we DON'T evade World War III, there wouldn't be any archaeologists in 40th century. It's not like the ruins would be safe to enter anyway.) -- Hkmaly (talk) 10:29, 25 April 2014 (UTC)

Found the reference to Shakespearian rope bridges... http://books.google.com/books?id=BJIeAQAAIAAJ&pg=PA126&lpg=PA126&dq=oriental+herald+postmaster&source=bl&ots=7_NUMfRlPW&sig=6d6WLenjQBjOiGJBDoQjIa-FYkk&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Q0XEUuKbKsTpoATP-4HgCg&ved=0CC8Q6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=oriental%20herald%20postmaster&f=false Androgenoide (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Found the reference to Spherical jellies: http://books.google.com/books?id=8IckAQAAIAAJ&lpg=PA87&ots=WRVY13FRwM&dq=%22subsist%20entirely%20upon%20jellies%22&pg=PA87#v=onepage&q=%22subsist%20entirely%20upon%20jellies%22&f=false Zeeprime (talk) 17:57, 1 January 2014 (UTC)

Found another reference to Shakespearian rope bridges. In short, some British officer called Mr. Shakespeare experimented and promoted the use of rope suspension bridges in India, apparently for the ease of colonization and military operations. http://books.google.com/books?id=aZRPAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA367 -furrypony 173.245.48.181 21:21, 1 January 2014 (UTC)

This looks like the actual rope bridge quote: http://books.google.com/books?id=8nyrbv2d_EUC&pg=PA115&dq=oriental+herald+%22bard+of+avon%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=g5_IUruFMIyPkAffrIDIAQ&ved=0CC0Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=oriental%20herald%20%22bard%20of%20avon%22&f=false 108.162.237.11 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Is it possible that the highlighted words can be shuffled to reveal a hidden message? Has Randall done this before? 141.101.99.214 07:53, 2 January 2014 (UTC)

The fourth quote (.."rocked and cradled by electricity"..) seems to appear in The Champagne Standard by LANE, Annie Eichberg (Mrs. John Lane). [6] 141.101.99.224 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

regarding the languages of new york city

http://languagehat.com/doing-field-linguistics-in-new-york-city/ 173.245.53.168 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)


Tone of the explanation

I find the tone of the explanation as it stands right now not to be in line with the rest of the explanations available on the site. For example:

 By the twenty-first century I believe we shall all be telepaths.
   Absurd

The plain "absurd" does not provide an explanation, only a judgement. It would be more useful it the explanation contained a link to a source with the quote, to provide context. Or provide a short bio for the person credited with the explanation. I understand the fascination behind arguing against or for the prediction, but that does not explain the comic. For example, you could argue that this particular prediction is in a sense accurate. Nowadays we all communicate in a way that people from a century ago would consider almost telepathic, given that "telepathy" means "distant experience". No, we are not mind readers, but a lot of us carry a device in our pockets that allows us to experience things at a distance.

Also, I wonder why some sentences are in boldface. I tried reading only the bold text, and it is not coherent enough. I tried reading the grey text, and it isn't coherent either. I tried several other ways of reading the texts, and I cannot find any "hidden meaning".

I believe it's just to highlight content. The grey or non-bold text is (for the most part) non-essential to the content of the quote. 173.245.52.213 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

--mem (talk) 16:10, 2 January 2014 (UTC)

I see I'm not the only one who thought of cellphones when he read that sentence. I've edited the article to reflect this explanation. --NeatNit (talk) 17:39, 2 January 2014 (UTC)


It seems to me that Randall believes that bolded text is false and grey text is true.173.245.50.62 16:13, 2 January 2014 (UTC)

This makes no sense. Most of the grey text has little content, and Abortion is still a very debated topic. 173.245.52.213 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
I think it's just for emphasis. He used a similar style in 1227: The Pace of Modern Life to highlight the bits that particularly resonate with modern times, e.g., the writer in 1905 who complained that people converse while riding their bikes, oblivious to their surroundings. Fryhole (talk) 20:53, 6 January 2014 (UTC)

There is also the recent budding prospect of technologically assisted telepathy, such as was recently done with small laboratory rodents. While not exactly "everyone" just yet, (ahem), the prospect is certainly not "absurd". Technologically enabled telepathy certainly looks possible, and given the rate of technological progress of this century, the prediction could well come true.

http://news.discovery.com/tech/biotechnology/two-rats-communicate-brain-to-brain-130227.htm

108.162.221.84 17:06, 2 January 2014 (UTC)

Technologically assisted telepathy redefines the word telepathy. For example Random House says communication between minds by some means other than sensory perception (my emphasis). Collins: the communication between people of thoughts, feelings, desires, etc, involving mechanisms that cannot be understood in terms of known scientific laws (my emphasis). 173.245.50.84 17:51, 2 January 2014 (UTC)

Note also that the novel is talking about natural telepathy, like the one birds may have. 173.245.50.84 22:15, 4 January 2014 (UTC)


108.162.219.208 17:16, 2 January 2014 (UTC) I suspect that most -- but not all -- of the "predictions" are apocryphal. For instance, I can indeed find the Gumbril (not "Gumbriel") character and citation in Huxley's "Antic Hay". However, the statement attributed to a methodist preacher and proselytizer (who really existed) in Upper Canada in 1864 seems to me totally out of character, and very hard to believe for the period. It was essentially the French who called themselves "Canadiens". The "others" still saw the place they lived in as an extension of the UK. To wit, John A. MacDonald, who famously wired "Send me another $10,000", also said "A British Subject I was born, a British Subject I shall die".

electric baby rearing

It should be noted that this quote was wrong about making love being a sanctuary from electric devices. 108.162.216.78 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)


Regarding languages spoken: according to

http://www.ethnologue.com/statistics/size

English is only third in languages spoken as primary language after Chinese and Spanish, while closely followed by Hindi and Arabic. I would not be too sure, if English will win out in NYC. 108.162.231.222 17:19, 3 January 2014 (UTC)

According to this report from the New York State comptroller's office dated 2006,

http://www.osc.state.ny.us/osdc/rpt3-2007queens.pdf

there are about 170 languages spoken in Queens. If that's at all accurate, it means that language diversity in New York hasn't shrunk but indeed nearly tripled.

--Dotour (talk) 10:21, 4 January 2014 (UTC)


I think the quote about colleges, football, and partying is included as an aversion. Football is still huge in the south, and partying everywhere. 173.245.50.60 16:53, 25 January 2014 (UTC) (P.S. Apparently this comment got eaten by ??? so I had to post it twice. Weird.)


If not a typo, is it worth mentioning that the guy in the title text is called "Shakespear" not "Shakespeare" but all you modern guys apparently ignored the difference? 108.162.215.56 15:31, 9 February 2014 (UTC)

Could be a typo in the quoted Oriental Herald article. The book referenced above spells it "Shakespeare". Brion (talk) 17:08, 13 March 2014 (UTC)
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