I was in middle school, I think, when I read Ender’s Game and the rest of the series…es (there are two distinct but intertwined storylines in Ender’s universe – one following Ender, the other following Bean). Anyway, the story is set in a future in which exceptionally bright kids are recruited to go to “Battle School” on a space station, to train for a war with an insectoid alien species usually referred to as “Buggers,” but aside from that, everyday life on Earth doesn’t seem to be too different. Besides living in a space station and playing war games in zero gravity, the one thing that stuck in my mind a brilliantly futuristic were the “desks” that everybody had.
“Desks” were basically small, portable, internet-connected computers with a touch-screen. I remember thinking that was very nearly magical, and pretty much the coolest thing ever. When I was reading that, tablet PCs did exist, but were fairly new still, and bulky, awkward, expensive, and not very powerful. Even laptops were still something I only dreamed about having, the internet was slow and texty, and WiFi (as far as consumers were concerned, anyway) didn’t exist yet. So, this fictional always-connected computer with the form factor of an Etch-a-Sketch became my benchmark for the future.
And I just got an iPad(2) for Christmas.
I can take notes, send email, read books, take pictures, draw pictures, watch movies, look up information, play games, and easily access the whole of the internet, any time, anywhere, from this screen thing in my hand, roughly the size of a college-ruled notebook (thinner than an Etch-a-Sketch)! Mission accomplished. Clearly, I am living in the future.
(Further proof, also based on juvenile fiction: I remember watching the Disney Channel movie “Zenon, Girl of the 21st Century”, and they had little discs that stored data or music or whatever – basically CDs, except they were the size of a quarter. I was storing my school papers on floppy discs, so had a little nerd aneurysm at the thought of fitting all that data on something so tiny… 12 years later, I have a 16gb micro SD card in my phone, full of dozens of CDs-worth of music, a bunch of photos, full TV episodes, and other data, on this little flake of plastic the size of my fingernail. *brainasplode*)