Friday, May 18, 2018

Things don't really get weird till you get "computer dating" in the 60s

Science fiction is a sometimes useful but often misleading indicator of how people in the past thought about progress and technology. In order to establish that some new innovation was really on people's minds, you need to look to the mainstream and you don't get much more mainstream than The Desk Set. A successful 1955 play starring Shirley Booth before becoming a vehicle for Hepburn and Tracy. (Certainly not one of their best efforts, but still better than you'd think from this trailer.

It's not entirely clear from the trailer, but the central conflict is the threat that the introduction of computers will lead to massive lay-offs in the office. People were talking about computers sixty-plus years ago, and the conversation has not evolved all that much.

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