Please see author's note at end....
|Virtual : Makeshift Studios 2013|
You wake,stretch and open your eyes and then...imagine this...
At breakfast you quickly complete some banking chores using an app on your 4th generation smart phone. You pay the rent on the apartment, a few bills, check your dwindling savings. You change, interchange your apps, buy an Oyster card, check the times of underground trains. After that you have a look at your work schedule on your calendar, change to your laptop and finish that report you were writing, and leave for work.
Your Oyster card - an electronic card that allows you to travel multi-journeys on the London public transport network - is now recorded on your smartphone so there is no need to visit or speak with anyone at your local station.
You travel into the city, and as you journey you distribute your report by email to those who will attend the meeting you have scheduled.
Arriving in the city centre, you find you have some time on your hands. You visit a local Caffe Nero, order an Americano at the speech recognition point and pay for it with your smartphone using near field communications technology. This allows Caffe Nero to access your bank account and remove the cost of the coffee.
The music is always cool in Caffe Nero, but, of course, there is no longer anyone to ask who is singing or how you can download, so instead you order a new ebook for your Kindle and use your paypal account to purchase a birthday present for a loved one.
Paypal was founded in March 2000 and acquired by Ebay in 2002 for $1.5 billion, it allows payments and money transfers to be made across cyberspace and already has over 200 million accounts.
You arrive at the meeting. Your report has already been downloaded and read by your colleagues from around the world. They also attend the meeting using the very latest in 3D transporter technology. They appear courtesy of flat screen plasmas hung on the wall around the room.
"I r-r-r-read your re...port on the way over, it's g-g-g-good." A colleague from Hong Kong appearing courtesy 3D TT (transporter technology) reassures, the time delay giving him an apparent stutter.
"Yes" says the girl from New York, whose picture immediately breaks up, before being re-assembled to catch her accidently spilling coffee on her blouse - "Oh sh..." she says, then all you can see is the top of her head as she fusses over the spilt drink.
"It was excellent" chimes your London counterpart, the only other physical presence in the huge 40 seater board room.
The meeting goes well and your report attracts new investors. To celebrate, you book a table for two at your favourite London restaurant - Little Venice over in Kilburn? - on, yes you guessed correct, an app. But, you don't have a girlfriend/boyfriend at the moment so you use an app to arrange a 'cyber...fr...iend'...no wait...this is getting just a little too weird.... move on...
Later, standing on the platform of the underground station you watch the sensor-driven, driverless train, enter the station, slow down and stop at the platform. 'No driver?' you mutter out loud, bathed in the nostalgia of a time when people manned the underground.
You climb aboard, squeeze past other passengers and easily find a seat. You realise the carriages are not as packed as they once were. Fewer and fewer people come into town, no need to visit the office or physically shop when it can all be done from home, and you have the added bonus of never missing an episode of Jeremy Kyle!
As you travel beneath London's streets, you recall a different time, consider how fast the world has changed and feel, really quite lonely.
Where, you think, are all the REAL people!
*Author's note : You will notice that 'Virtual' is - unusually - written in the second person. Most things are written in the first person 'I', which is the more usual for a blog, or the third person 'he/she'. It struck me early on that I wanted this to sound quite clinical and impersonal - and you will understand why now that you have read it. We are living through a very human experiment and while we can make educated guesstimates about where we are headed, life always seems to throw up that curved ball that takes us all by surprise. Virtual, for me, is a kind of experiment to chime with the times we live in. Remember our 'interconnectedness' please feel free to interact and comment, I kind of feel that rather than this just being MY blog, it kind of belongs to all who read it.
** The Jeremy Kyle reference was, of course, a joke, I hope you all realised that!