What "golden ages" are we in, right now?
October 12, 2007 8:26 AM   Subscribe

Fifty years from now, people will look back at 2007 and say "That was the golden age of ________."

I hope this isn't chat-filter, but I don't think it's a completely subjective question. Two parts:
  1. What should I be out enjoying right now, confident in the prediction that this is as good as it gets?
  2. More concretely, what kind of evidence would you use to justify or argue that that society's in such a period now, without knowing the future? Is there evidence of a decline looming on the horizon, or is there a different kind of evidence available?
My first thought is that we're in the golden age of the Web. Not of the internet as a whole, because who knows what's coming down the pipe, but of the Web as a network of fairly discrete sites with fairly discrete pages. My thought is that losing the net neutrality debate won't destroy the Web as we know it, but that it will probably impede the pace of progress.

I'd also predict the same about the Mac, as such. I think Apple's doing better than it ever has as far as market-share and the development community is strong, but Apple seems to have decided that the iPhone is the future. (Of course, that's open to debate.)

So, what golden ages do you believe we're in, and why?
posted by electric_counterpoint to Society & Culture (85 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
airline travel
posted by found missing at 8:30 AM on October 12, 2007

American television. I mean, it might get better, but I think that American television is as good as it's ever been.
posted by craichead at 8:31 AM on October 12, 2007

A golden age is something that affects society as a whole. Apple? Some company that sells pricey electronics is not a golden age of anything. I doubt most americans could afford a powerbook.

Most likely this will be either too subjective (chat filter) or objectively we are living in mediocre times which are a golden age of nothing.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:33 AM on October 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

I violently disagree about television. It's mostly crap.

I'm going to go on the record and say technology. I think the strides we're making now are unbelievable, and won't be matched with such speed and innovation in the future.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:33 AM on October 12, 2007

I also dont see why the web is suddenly the golden age today. I would think that historians will pick the dawning of the information age for the masses closer to 1999 than 2007.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:35 AM on October 12, 2007

Pornography. It's available everywhere, in any medium, and in any flavor you like. It is truly a Golden Age.
posted by poppo at 8:36 AM on October 12, 2007 [5 favorites]

How about food? With the rise of foodie-ism, there has never in the history of the world so much and so diverse imported food and drink available for so cheap - and as fuel becomes more expensive, there may never be again.
posted by ormondsacker at 8:38 AM on October 12, 2007

American Hegemony (I don't know about "golden")
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 8:39 AM on October 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm against 317, I think tech advances beget tech advances, and things will keep speeding up.

I'd say airline and automobile travel. I can afford to take a road trip across the country, taking side-jaunts as I see fit, in a private car. I don't think I'll be able to do that in 30 years.
posted by craven_morhead at 8:40 AM on October 12, 2007

I doubt most americans could afford a powerbook.
Is that the standard, though? You can talk about the golden age of the Broadway musical, even though most New Yorkers couldn't have afforded to get in the door, or the golden age of Renaissance painting, even though most people in Rome never got to see the Sistine chapel.
I violently disagree about television. It's mostly crap.
I'd submit that in any era, most of what was produced in any art form would be crap. A golden age is defined by the best stuff, not by the existence or non-existence of crap. You just no longer see the crappy Renaissance art, because it's been forgotten.
posted by craichead at 8:41 AM on October 12, 2007 [4 favorites]

airline travel, free online video (inasmuch as the late 90s were the golden age for free online music)...
posted by Marquis at 8:41 AM on October 12, 2007

@damn dirty ape: I guess I wasn't clear. I'm using "golden age" in the lowercase sense, as just the perfect flowering of some thing. I think found missing's suggestion of airline travel is spot-on.
posted by electric_counterpoint at 8:42 AM on October 12, 2007

Starbucks. Something will take it down eventually!
posted by kepano at 8:44 AM on October 12, 2007

I would imagine that 9/11/01 marked the END of the golden age of airline travel. Everything since then has been more of a drag, more expensive, worse service, more intrusive security, and more customer paranoia.
posted by hermitosis at 8:44 AM on October 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

@ Taken Outtacontext: I'd actually argue that American hegemony was at its height right after WWII, when the rest of the world, even/especially the Soviet Union, was still picking up the pieces.
posted by electric_counterpoint at 8:44 AM on October 12, 2007

I'd say a golden age happens when there's later a falling-off in quality. So technology and TV are out for that reason because surely they'll be even better in the future. You're looking for absolute worth followed by a decline, not just the point of highest marginal rate of improvement in something.

Driving, maybe? Since personal automobile travel is easier and cheaper than ever, and may never be again. I tend to be a technological optimist, though, so I'm not actually that confident in my own prediction.

On preview: what craven_morhead said.
posted by chinston at 8:45 AM on October 12, 2007

Nostalgia being what it is, I would guess that in 50 years someone will argue that this was the golden age for pretty much anything you think of. I agree with automobiles/automobile travel though, as I think it quite possible that private cars may be much less common in 50 years.
posted by TedW at 8:46 AM on October 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

I violently disagree about television. It's mostly crap.

Mostly maybe, but in 20 years I predict there are going to be young cultural historians saying "The Sopranos and Arrested Development and The Amazing Race and The West Wing and Lost and The Shield (and X and Y and Z...) were all on the schedule during the same year*? When did you have time to go outside?"

* Granted, this was about 2-3 years ago, but I haven't been able to keep up with what's on now.
posted by kittyprecious at 8:47 AM on October 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

Refined carbohydrates. It's a total hunch, but I suspect refined carbs will follow the same trajectory as tobacco; 50 years hence, 2007 will seem near the end of the golden age.
posted by backupjesus at 8:48 AM on October 12, 2007

Seafood. Ocean pollution, climate change, and overfishing are going to devastate fish stocks and make much commercial fishing seem as antiquated as corsets and buggy-whips.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:50 AM on October 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

Nerdity. It's not only okay, but "cool" to like video games, comic books and computer programming. These are things that, ten years ago, you'd discuss only with others of the nerd persuasion. But Nintendo released the Wii because the saw a market for casual gamers; comic book characters I'd never heard of have their own blockbuster movies that people go to and enjoy; codemonkeys get respect from paper-pushers like me because they can do things with a computer I can only imagine.

This is the golden age of the nerd.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 8:53 AM on October 12, 2007 [5 favorites]

Disposable products.
posted by letahl at 8:55 AM on October 12, 2007

I'd suggest that the early 2000's was the end of the golden age of civil liberties, for whatever they were originally!

Freedom of speech? Demonstrations? Criticism of the government? Innocent until proven guilty? Travel as a passenger, not as a potential terrorist? I think that all these things will become "things of the past" over the next few years.
posted by Chunder at 9:05 AM on October 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

Nothing really, because we're at a crossroads. Web 2.0 is heralding a big gap between what's happening in business now (run by 50-somethings), and what people (20-somethings) expect, because there's such a huge difference in cultural context and technology.
posted by lhall at 9:08 AM on October 12, 2007

Seconding television, although I'd amend this view to read "2007, or a few years earlier, marked the beginning of a prolonged golden age."

Television, having achieved mass popularity in the early fifties, was never a true competitor with movies. It tried to become one, but Hollywood has always held the upper hand. Not necessarily in terms of wealth, but almost always in terms of quality and critical recognition.

Think back to the 70s, TV's nadir (in spite of MASH and Roots and several other shows). TV was derided as mindless, brain-dulling entertainment. Dissed with terms like "the idiot box" or "the boob tube." It's back then when the phrase "lowest common denominator" came into vogue.

But times have changed. TV has broken two of the main barriers in its battle to compete with movies: money and censorship. The TV warhorses are budgeted with funds that were commonplace to movies a few years back. And HBO has given TV a censor-free forum.

Pop in a DVD of The Sopranos into your plasma, and it's just like watching a movie, swear words, nudity, challenging plot twists and all. In fact, it is a movie, one that's divided into multiple episodes.

Let the golden years commence.
posted by Gordion Knott at 9:09 AM on October 12, 2007

Seconding airline travel. You can go all over Europe for almost nothing.

I'd say the golden age of the internet is long gone, ended somewhere between 2001/02.
posted by fire&wings at 9:10 AM on October 12, 2007

Fire & Wings, I don't think the internet has really hit its stride yet; it hasn't really evolved enough. I don't think the common use/acceptance of the internet really constitutes a golden age.

Perhaps fast-food, though predicting a down slide of Mc D's is perhaps a little too optimistic.
posted by craven_morhead at 9:20 AM on October 12, 2007

Boston sports fandom. The Pats have won 3 Super Bowls and look unbeatable, the Sox won a Series and look solid, and Boston College is undefeated and ranked #4. Plus the Celtics should be much, much better this year.
posted by ibmcginty at 9:21 AM on October 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

free water
war contractors
posted by DarkForest at 9:21 AM on October 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

The Golden Age of the Gas-Powered Automobile (more toward the end of it, actually)

The Golden Age of Cellphone Technology (ringtones, baby)

The Golden Age of Excess/Consumption (those of us in the first world can't really continue like this, can we?)

The Golden Age of Sporting (I think we will see supplementation legalized, eventually, and people will pine for the days when there was no such thing as HGH... already happening, sort of)

I agree with airline travel.
posted by dead_ at 9:22 AM on October 12, 2007

Also, how about: MetaFilter!
posted by chinston at 9:22 AM on October 12, 2007

Without questioh:

The Golden Age Of Drunken Spoiled Celebrity Skanks
posted by briank at 9:23 AM on October 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

Dagnabit, DarkForest. This is the golden age of my getting scooped, it looks like.
posted by chinston at 9:24 AM on October 12, 2007

These have all been listed already, but here's my list: oil consumption, pornography, and the US as the world economic leader. (Are these three intrinsically linked? Yikes.)
posted by jtfowl0 at 9:33 AM on October 12, 2007

We're at the tail end of the golden age of the US dollar. In 50 years it will no longer hold its status as the foremost international reserve currency. IANAE (economist) but I can't imagine that would be good for the US economy and the American standard of living relative to the world.
posted by Durin's Bane at 9:40 AM on October 12, 2007

I remember reading John Hatt's 1993 book "The Tropical Traveller" (still a worthwhile read) - he nominated that period as the golden age of travel because (quoting from memory) "it is now cheap enough to get pretty much anywhere for the sort of price the average person can afford - yet the world is not yet so homogeneous that there seems no point in going there". Fourteen years later prices have come down still further but the world does seem a lot more homogenised. Maybe the golden age of travel is past.
posted by rongorongo at 9:45 AM on October 12, 2007

Environmental Awareness or Philanthropy
posted by spec80 at 9:46 AM on October 12, 2007

I'll say not just the automobile, but -- more specifically -- the performance automobile. From the Miata to the Corvette, modern production cars deliver performance for a price that was unthinkable 20 years ago.

I'm mean, we've got modern Honda Accords that are quicker than 80s Ferraris. Crazy!
posted by LordSludge at 9:55 AM on October 12, 2007

Fossil fuels.
posted by medusa at 9:59 AM on October 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

Freedom and Liberty, 50 years from now we won't have it in the same ways.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:03 AM on October 12, 2007

(...and Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Futurama and Veronica Mars and The Wire and Scrubs...look, there's been a lot of good TV shows around lately. I never thought I'd be such an apologist.)
posted by kittyprecious at 10:11 AM on October 12, 2007

American TV, definitely. It's been incredibly good over the last 3-5 years. Production quality has just shot through the roof, and there's an emphasis on complex character development and narrative that just wasn't there before. I mean, look at the slow-burn narratives on The Wire. It's like the Platonic ideal of the police procedural. Even a piece of relatively light-weight network TV like Lost or Heros is so much better than what used to be common fare. It's like Twin Peaks went mainstream. I'm wondering if the end of The Sopranos might mark a breaking point, though. It would be a natural point at which to say "this was the end of the Golden Age". But it was also happened in the the year in which This American Life went on TV, so who knows?
posted by mr_roboto at 10:16 AM on October 12, 2007

If I were going to make a case for this being the end of the golden age of American television, I'd point to the crisis in the funding model. People are increasingly DVRing T.V. shows and skipping the commercials, and without commercials T.V. shows don't make money. It's hard to know if the big budgets and excellent production values are going to be sustainable. But many of the best T.V. shows are already on premium cable, where that's not such an issue. So maybe the golden age will continue.
posted by craichead at 10:23 AM on October 12, 2007

Silicon based computing.
Traditional manufacturing.

I'm going to go on the record and say technology. I think the strides we're making now are unbelievable, and won't be matched with such speed and innovation in the future.

Not by a long shot, sir. We're so close to the future, I can taste it.
posted by tracert at 10:26 AM on October 12, 2007

I have to go with automotive travel. My husband and I are desperate to take as many cross-country road trips as we can in the next 5-10 years because we believe we may not have the opportunity to do so again - or at least not until after the oil crash and susequent re-build of what cars and driving and refueling is all over.
posted by agregoli at 10:27 AM on October 12, 2007

The golden age of Free.

Freecycling, free music, free porn, free information & publications, free games, free items from free forums that track free things, free websites, free books online (and obviously off), free software, free food, free image hosting, free web space, free email, free tax filing and free credit reports.

The golden age of Free.

Unfortunately two things that won't be free for the forseeable future - Metafilter and Mike Vick.
posted by sociolibrarian at 10:38 AM on October 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

Punditry. Never before have people thought that their opinion mattered so much.
posted by scruss at 10:47 AM on October 12, 2007 [6 favorites]

We're in the early days of the golden age of commercial spaceflight (as opposed to government-funded spaceflight, which has been wheezing badly for some time now). Burt Rutan and his various competitors are going to make space, the final frontier, actually accessible to a number of (very very rich) people. But what they're really selling is a paradigm shift, not just an expensive tourist attraction.
posted by Asparagirl at 10:57 AM on October 12, 2007

Laptop DJing.
posted by box at 11:02 AM on October 12, 2007

The golden age of War. Today a war is epitomized by a very low casualty rate, low, if any collateral damage, and absolutely no sacrifice on the part of the general population. (if the war is happening elsewhere). Since the world no longer has the stomach for wars with thousands of daily casualties, entire cities blown to smithereens, and personal sacrifice on the part of the general population, I think in the future we will look back through mutant eyes and wish for the good old days.
posted by Gungho at 11:07 AM on October 12, 2007

Fast fashion? all these high end designers doing lines for Target and other places, not to mention the ubiquitous H&M, Zara.. Topshop, Mango.. not that I think it's a good thing to have all these quickly disposable clothes but still, it barely takes a few weeks for things to go from runway to ripoff.

Cosign on Boston area sports especially the Pats.

Also, access to music. Maybe just starting a golden age... but on the net you can find anything.. used to be you'd have to trade tapes and scavenge record shops and hoard rarities and.. now I can instantly d/l that obscure 7" I heard on a college radio station five years ago.
posted by citron at 11:09 AM on October 12, 2007

I agree on the TV front -- and I think more so in the last few years as the "reality" trend of the early decade faded. All the good writers have moved to television, from what I hear.

The downside is what scruss just mentioned -- as fiction and entertainment are easier to get on-demand, the most economically viable television may become 24-hour news, as people tend to value its "liveness", leave it on in the background, etc. -- it may be the best place to force feed us commercials.

Of course, I hope we do look at this as the "golden age of punditry", because it means at some point we'll have broken away from it.
posted by condour75 at 11:10 AM on October 12, 2007

About 2005* (ish) was the beginning of a golden age of the Internet and its information economy. There are so many services out there right now, willing to offer great products and information for free or cheap. There's lots of crap, but we are getting pretty good at distilling it to get to the sweet sweet vodka inside. Now, I'm not saying this has even peaked yet, but I'd say it's definitely going on. I imagine at some point, these services will either be killed by legislation and lawsuits, or it will die collapse on itself as advertising becomes less profitable.

I'd agree with American television. There is, again, a lot of LCD type reality TV and trashy stuff, but there are also excellent, very high production value shows with excellent, intelligent plots. I'm thinking along the lines of Arrested Development, Heroes, Lost, Scrubs, and so on. I think it's possible (though not inevitable) that at some point this will become infeasible because of the associated high cost, and aforementioned decreasing profitability of advertising.

There are other things mentioned upthread, particularly anything related to the oil economy that I think are ending, but I'm a bit too uninformed to want to talk much about that.

*A good case could be made that this really began ca. 1999, but it seems to me that that was sort of a false start. Either way, I think now is some kind of internet golden age.
posted by !Jim at 11:11 AM on October 12, 2007

Pirating. Software, music, and movie pirating, specifically.
posted by lohmannn at 11:24 AM on October 12, 2007

posted by LarryC at 11:35 AM on October 12, 2007

The golden age of US Warmaking.

The phone was ringing off the hook from subsaharan africa, so I went ahead and fixed that one for you.

On another note...

This is surely the golden age of corporate influence over US government, particularly elections. And I say that as a starry eyed optimist, convinced there HAS to be some sort of reform coming soon. It can't get worse than this.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:38 AM on October 12, 2007

Beer. It's easier than ever to get really good beer of all types almost anywhere. A hundred years from now when people are popping beer pills, they'll look back and say ... mmmmm ... dunkel.
posted by lpsguy at 11:39 AM on October 12, 2007

This is the golden age of cheap oil. That means airline travel and well-maintained highway systems. That means disposable plastic and cheap clothes. That means fresh fruit in winter. So I'm in the 'travel well and eat well while you can' camp.

Whether or not it's the golden age of American television, I doubt you will have many regrets about missing that now. If you do, there'll probably still be video on demand.
posted by zennie at 11:46 AM on October 12, 2007 [2 favorites]

Free is good. Free internet, free porn...

I'd have to go with "Youtube", though. Or possibly even, "Google", who owns them and half the known universe.
posted by misha at 11:46 AM on October 12, 2007

I'd have to go with television as well. Which is ironic since I canceled my cable subscription that day after the Sopranos finale. But since then I've still kept up with Weeds, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Entourage, 30 Rock and The Office--I just download them instead of watching live (sometimes legally!). And I've caught up on TV series I missed on DVD (Freaks & Geeks, Undeclared, The Larry Sanders Show, Arrested Development).
posted by mullacc at 12:08 PM on October 12, 2007

I think this may be the start of a golden era of outreach, help thy neighbor type of thing. Look at Bill Gates, Jolie, et all who are suddenly devoting billions in time, money and fame points into projects like Africa, ect. It also seems to be more focused on what works over there, instead of what we think they need.

And I'd argue that the US is the most prolific starter of big flashy wars, but that smaller scale but still vastly important wars have been going on under the guise of terrorism, oppression, and the modern horror of 'ethnic cleansing'
posted by Jacen at 12:29 PM on October 12, 2007

Organic foods--I think they're a fad that has peaked.
posted by Brian James at 12:44 PM on October 12, 2007

The Golden Age of Cellphone Technology (ringtones, baby)

Absolutely not, especially if you're in america. Elsewhere it isn't as bad. But, in america, we are at the worst in terms of cellphone technology, not the best. Our technology is generations behind what the rest of the world is using (two out of four major service providers still use CDMA, honestly?), service providers cripple the phones they sell, what features are available are charged for to ridiculous degrees, and the spectrum is locked down by a oligarchy with no real chance at competition by anyone else.

There's some glimmers of hope on the horizon: the coming spectrum auction, google's involvement, openmoko, and the iPhone isn't bad, but, if anything, american cellphones are in the middle of a dark age, not a golden one.
posted by Arturus at 12:44 PM on October 12, 2007

lpsguy has it. It's the tail end of the craft brew revolution. It started in the 80's and has now peaked. Pretty much anything that can be done with beer (new flavors, return of brew pubs, return of regional breweries, general appreciation of high quality techniques, high alcohol content, rejuvenation of extinct styles, etc. etc.) has already happened. There'll be one or two more minor explosions, but the fire in the ammo dump has pretty much hit the high point and is settling back down to a low sizzle.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 1:08 PM on October 12, 2007

I didnt expect this thread to be so depressing.
posted by goethean at 1:11 PM on October 12, 2007

This is the Golden Age of Inequality. The differences in wealth, health, education, and life expectancy between countries, and between social classes within countries - is staggering. Whether through technological development or sociopolitical change, I think we can expect (or at least hope) that there will be less inequality 50 years from now.
posted by googly at 1:42 PM on October 12, 2007

Bottled water, flavored water, vitamin water, I can't believe it's not water...
posted by wafaa at 1:51 PM on October 12, 2007

Internet. It's the greatest thing since electricity.
posted by four panels at 1:56 PM on October 12, 2007

The Middle Class in North America ("interest-only" mortgages, seemingly endless credit, relatively cheap energy, "consumer electronics" with built-in obsolescence, &c.)
posted by porpoise at 2:04 PM on October 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

Golden Age of the Internet. In the future, the Internet may be fractured, and there may be more pay for play, metered bandwidth, etc.

The Golden Age of music filesharing ended, and I missed it, damnit.

Golden Age of cheap gasoline and petrochemical stuff like plastic.

Golden Age of ME.
posted by theora55 at 2:19 PM on October 12, 2007

Pretty much anything that can be done with beer ... has already happened.

Are you sure about that?
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 2:29 PM on October 12, 2007

In the US, we are nearing the end of a Golden Age for National Parks. Right now admission and camping is cheap, transportation costs to get to the parks is cheap, the parks themselves are still in decent shape because of earlier investment, and the less popular parks aren't that overrun with visitors, and ranger still is still large enough that they can do a bit more than just get by.

These things are all likely to slip away soon. Prices will go up and ranger presence will go down if parks continue to be underfunded; transportation costs (esp to remote places) are set to skyrocket; detoriation of park infrastructure will start to become obvious; and as the US population grows and preserved natural spaces become more rare, the parks will be filled beyond capacity.
posted by cholstro at 2:43 PM on October 12, 2007

Leveraged finance. If you were a person or company with a pulse, banks were willing to throw money your way. No assets, no paycheck verification, no problem! Of course, that all collapsed before the year was over.
posted by Frank Grimes at 2:54 PM on October 12, 2007

The Golden Age of music filesharing ended, and I missed it, damnit.

You mean stuff like Napster? The golden age of downloading individual mislabelled tracks encoded at 128kbps? Look into bittorrent, my friend. The golden age has just begun.
posted by squidlarkin at 2:55 PM on October 12, 2007

Water. Depending on where you live, of course, but I fully expect my grand children to look at me in horror when they learn that we flushed our toilets with perfectly fine drinking water in 2007.
posted by davar at 3:52 PM on October 12, 2007

Golden Age as meaning "enjoy it while it lasts", I'd agree with BitterOldPunk: seafood. There has never been so many species available in fish markets because of extensive fishing, fast transport and top notch refrigeration. But the stocks are dwindling very fast. Fresh cod is fabulous for example, but it's in part because there are no more big cods, only small ones. The time of big fishes is already over for me anyway, because of mercury levels (since I have read from several sources about tuna: "don't eat it more than once a month and not at all for kids and pregnant women", I don't want to eat that stuff anymore).

And as for "booming business Golden Age" I would risk: funeral homes. If we are to believe the Singularitians, less and less people will die in the coming years. But I wouldn't tag it with "enjoy it while it lasts".
posted by bru at 4:24 PM on October 12, 2007

Golden age of..

Internet (web 2.0, but no net neutrality bs, costs minimal)
Gaming (xbox, wii, pc - so many great titles that qualify as *art*)
Cheap Travel. In ten years, airline travel will be much, much more expensive. It takes a lot of oil to run a 747.
Free Water. I know this prediction is done to death, but doesn't mean I can't make it too.
Music. very, very contentious, but there is a lot of good stuff out there and thanks to myspace and so on any two bit band can get out there, at least, if not necessarily blow up. The myspace revolution will probably be one of the most well remembered events in internet culture.


on a related note, well.. I think our generations will be remembered for how closed off they were to average people. fear! stranger danger! etc. How many of you know your neighbours?
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 5:23 PM on October 12, 2007

2007 will be remembered as the golden age of the time before the zombies rose in order to violently and thoroughly devour all of our brains.

I look forward to eating your brains.
posted by baphomet at 11:45 PM on October 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

Adding to the oil theme, it's the golden age of energy. We piss it away in vast quantities in so many ways that will shock our descendants, without even thinking.
Vast amounts of energy are used to get a vehicle up to speed for just a few hundred yards but then all that energy is then dumped out the brakes as heat! And THEN - get this - having thrown out all that energy, when the light turns green you use a whole bunch MORE energy to get the vehicle moving again... for just another few hundred yards before dumping that energy too!

Right now, it is cheaper to throw excess energy at a problem than it is to implement a solution. In the future, it may be the opposite, and if so, our entire way of doing things will seem alien and crude.

But wait - how can something crude and lesser be a "golden age"?

An analogy to this golden age via a gestault-shift march of technology is the hollywood Epic Films like Ben Hur. It boggles the mind today that in order to make a film like that, they would actually build those colossal structures for real, and hire and costume and train those thousands of people, and then try to film them in one take. That's insane! We don't do it like that any more - those are huge costs for so much less return than using modern special effects. But back then, it was the other way around. The tables have turned, and filming their way is alien now. But people definitely see a golden age of the epic. It may be crude, but it's impressive in its excess.

We are also crude but impressive in our excess :)

Fingers crossed for fusion.
posted by -harlequin- at 2:29 AM on October 13, 2007

The absurdity of life. I mean really---REALLY. Look at prices? Look at jobs? Look at priorities and marriages and education. Look at war, look at politics, look at the steaming shitpile of candidates and there's still nobody to vote FOR. Look at pop music, look at pop TV. Look at celebrities and disease and the state of medical research. Am I the only person who thinks that absolutely none of it makes sense?
posted by TomMelee at 7:21 AM on October 13, 2007

The golden age of...people inserting their political agenda into every conceivable Metafilter topic?
posted by mattholomew at 7:53 PM on October 13, 2007

Golden Age of the Internet. In the future, the Internet may be fractured, and there may be more pay for play, metered bandwidth, etc.

Exactly. I think it will be inconceivable to people in the future that vastly popular and influential websites were founded and operated by private individuals, not megacorporations. That anyone could have a website that was (theoretically, at least) on an equal footing with the websites of Disney, Google, and Microsoft. That websites linked to other websites, not owned by that same company, for free.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:25 PM on October 14, 2007

We're in the Golden Age of environment and energy aplenty - at least in the West.

In about a decade, as one environmental and energy disaster hits again and again, we'll look back on these days when people had the freedom to drive, fly, eat, drink what they like and not have to batter down against superstorms and hurricanes all the time, while dealing with energy, food and oil shortages.
posted by electriccynic at 8:48 AM on October 15, 2007

Those who suggested the impending end of a microbrew golden age might be right. The rising price of hops and malt threaten to dramatically increase the price of quality brew in the very near future [Link].
posted by cholstro at 9:09 AM on October 17, 2007

Consumerism and information. We have access to anything we could possibly want. Some of us lack means, but the paths are all being carved, if we can find a way to hop on.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:20 PM on December 20, 2007

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