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David Bowie, tech visionary, predicted social media's rise

Kim S. Nash | Jan. 13, 2016
In 1999, the pop star was predicting the success of music downloads and ripping wearables.

Everyone talks about wearable computers in the years to come. Whether I go for that has an awful lot to do with who designs them; I'm quite fastidious about what I wear [laughs]. These huge vinyl boots -- when you're 18, that's OK, but not when you're 52. You hear about air-conditioned cooling suits or visor helmets so we can watch stock options flash before our eyes while we send E-mail from our wristwatches. It's all too silly.

Within the home, I love the idea of intelligent buildings completely wired, though I don't think I'd have anything like the Bill Gates house. I don't want it to look like you're living inside HAL -- thought I don't mind HAL living with me. But I like old-fashioned paintings on my wall. No flat video representations of them, either. I want to touch the paint and feel statues.

As pieces of my body start falling apart, I'll have them all replaced. All the ones that make life worth living -- I'm talking of the brain, of course [laughs].

I suspect that I won't be living in a very different fashion in 2008. Why I fight the idea that my lifestyle would change is because it really didn't change that radically in the last 20 years. I don't see why it would in the next 10.

There's a built-in expectation [created] by the stupid millennium business. The buildup to the millennium is going to cause this agitated state between exhilaration and panic. Next year could be a frightening year. There will be such an enormous letdown when you wake up in 2000 and realize it's just another rainy Tuesday and your life hasn't changed, for the better or worse.

The biggest lifestyle change will be for parents and children. Unless parents get themselves computer-literate, there will be a real disparity in knowledge and reference points. The child will think the parent is stupid, and the parent will become bitter and angry that he can't understand things.

In 1999, Kim S. Nash was a senior writer at Computerworld and is now a senior writer at The Wall Street Journal.


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