1956 time-capsule letter to the future

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Walt Disney's 1956 time-capsule letter to the future From Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing: The Disney company has unearthed a 1956 time-capsule containing a letter from Walt Disney to the future, on stationary bearing the legend "NO AGREEMENT WILL BE BINDING ON THIS CORPORATION UNLESS IN WRITING AND SIGNED BY AN OFFICER." Walt's letter to the future speculates about the future of entertainment and is at once profoundly wrong and profoundly right.

Walt predicts that the world will be overturned by technology, all the old order remade. At the same time, he assumes that what will come in on the tails of 1956's mass media will be...more mass media! Even though Walt himself predated truly national media, he can't conceive of the age of mass media waning and being replaced by a mass medium -- a channel like the net -- crowded with a never-ending confusion of micro-media. Walt, in other words, didn't predict the long tail. [...O]f one thing I'm sure. People will need and demand amusement, refreshment and pleasant relaxation from daily tasks as much in your day as they have in ours and in all the generations of mankind into the remote past. What the exact nature and implementation of these mass entertainments may be, doesn't make much difference, it seems to me.

Humanity, as history informs us, changes very slowly in character and basic interests. People need to play as much as they need toll. They never cease to be fascinated by they own powers and passions, their base or noble emotions, their faiths and struggles and triumphs against handicap -- all things that make them laugh and weep and comfort one another in love and sacrifice out of the depths of their being...

Mindful of the phenomenal discoveries and applications of science to all our activities and institutions, it seems no mere guess that public entertainment will have become machined and powered by atomic and solar energies long before you read this capsule.

The extension of radar and other as yet untapped sources of cosmic force may well have changed the entire technique of communication, in the theatre and television fields as well as in other areas of informational broadcast.

Millions of people in massive assemblies around the world may now be viewing the same staged or natural event, scanned by some incredibly potent scope, in the same amount of time. They may even be viewing presently obscured vistas on neighboring planets as one might look at neighbors across our Los Angeles Streets.

Omniscience will have drawn closer to finite senses and perceptions, for our entertainment as for our livelihood -- yours, I should say, who will read this in your 21st Century.

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