When I Was

Listened to the Kevin Kelly econtalk podcast the other day. Eh. One thing he said that struck my fancy was from his Edge.org answer to “What Are You Optimistic About?”

Moving back into the past has never been easier. Citizens in developing countries can merely walk back to their villages, where they can live with age-old traditions, and limited choices. If they are eager enough, they can live without modern technology at all. Citizens in the developed world can buy a plane ticket and in less than one day can be settled in a hamlet in Nepal or Mali. If you care to relinquish the options of the present and adopt the limited choices of the past you can live there the rest of your life. Indeed you can choose your time period. If you believe the peak of existence was reached in Neolithic times you can camp out in a clearing in the Amazon; if you suspect the golden age was in the 1890s, you can find a farm among the Amish. We have the incredible opportunity to head into the past, but it is amazing how few people really want to live there. Except for a few rare individuals, no one does.

While only vaguely interesting as an observation, it clicked with my recurring thought that living in the NJ suburbs was like living in the 1950s. This then prompted this list of places I’ve spent time, and when they are in the 20th century.

1990s Silicon Valley
1980s New York
1970s Los Angeles
1960s San Francisco
1950s New Jersey
1940s Chicago
1930s Tomorrow
1920s Miami
1910s Poughkeepsie
1900s Boston

I refuse to discuss or defend my choices–especially the scurrilous ones–on the grounds that they are obvious on their face. But I am willing to entertain alternative answers.


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