A thought experiment…

I am an United States citizen. Several of the writers that I follow, however, are not. Like Charles Stross: he’s English by birth and lives in Scotland, which makes for some interesting political insights and reactions.

Like this piece, which got my writerly brain thinking…

So, the British royal family has a new third-in-line heir to the throne…This prince is going to find things a little different because he’s going to be the first designated future British monarch to grow up in a hothouse panopticon, with ubiquitous surveillance and life-logging …I expect there to be Facebook account-hacking attacks on his friends, teachers, and associates—and that’s just in the near term…This kid is going to grow up surrounded by smartphones, smart glasses (think in terms of the ten-years-hence descendants of Google Glass), and everything he does in public can be expected to go viral despite the best efforts of the House of Windsor’s spin doctors.

Especially his last line:

What is it going to be like to be the heir to the throne, aged ten and starting at a public school (that is, a very high-end private school) in 2023?

Some background. At my recent MFA Residency, one of the modules that I selected was a discussion of “future technology”… or about extrapolating from what we have now to plausible near future things, so Stross’s piece lands in that ballpark.

Consider it a writing prompt, I suppose.

But there’s something else that can be spun from his post, a more universal application. Pick any “democratic” nation, one that’s modern enough to be technologically developed (read: a majority of it’s population has some degree of internet access). For the sake of this, let’s consider 1995 the starting point of the Internet’s rise to it’s current state. (I started college in 1994, when Netscape and Internet Explorer were in their infancy, and services like Hotmail and Yahoo were still novelties.)

Running with that variation of Charlie’s idea, anyone born since 1995 has the potential of having lived on the internet for at least the past few years. Jump forward several years, when anyone running for political office might have their internet past scoured and submitted for public consumption. What is that world going to look like? What will the societal shifts be like with regards to reactions to said past events?


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