back to article How to ensure your tech predictions catch on in a flash? Do the mash

If the future was a song, it would be a mashup. This only stands to reason as the world we live in, just like the one we used to live in, has always been a mix of old and new cultures. The challenge for futurists is to guess which bits of old-school tech will still be hanging around the neck of the new. And therein lies the …

  1. sbt

    In a realistic, mashed-up future, they generally do not bother to hollow out volcanos

    True; I believe the volcano thing was 75 million years ago with DC 3 and nuclear bombs. Now that's a mash-up.

    Mine's the one with the PartyBen box set in the pocket. --->

  2. Dippywood

    The ' loopy Scot retro-wavers the Rezillos' are still using Stingray to announce themselves...

    ...the end of which can be heard at the very start of this:

    1. Lyndon Hills 1

      Re: The ' loopy Scot retro-wavers the Rezillos' are still using Stingray to announce themselves...

      In related news, Thunderbirds are Go! is on the Mission Accomplished album...

      Fond memories

  3. Chairman of the Bored

    Jackie Chan kung-fu fighting scenes...

    ...set to heavy metal. Or soft classical.

    You're welcome!

    1. DJV Silver badge

      Re: Jackie Chan kung-fu fighting scenes...

      Or any old broadcast of the Old Grey Whistle Test where tracks were set to ancient and obscure b/w cartoons.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Jackie Chan kung-fu fighting scenes...

        I remember Tubular Bells against a backdrop of grainy B/W skiers from the early 20th Century.

        Some of those mashups worked pretty well, even if the context was a bit off.

    2. Red Ted
      Thumb Up

      Re: Jackie Chan kung-fu fighting scenes...

      Or the Postman Pat intro set to brooding guitar...

  4. Franco

    Growing up in the 80s Terrahawks was my introduction to Gerry Anderson, so HUDSON the talking car was an alternative to KITT except all Hudson could do that I can recall was talk and change his colour to match Kate Kestral's hair. Best part of the show was Windsor Davies's dialled up to 11 voice acting as Sgt Major Zero though.

    Not usually a fan of mashups, but I always quite liked Kings of Leon vs Girls Aloud for some reason.

    1. Alistair Dabbs


      Right at the end of the 1980s, I worked with one of the voice actors, Jeremy Hitchen, in a completely unrelated project. He and his wife ran their own media buying agency and my employer contracted them to sell ad space into several of our customer mags for IT clients.

  5. chivo243 Silver badge


    They had nothing to do with Steve Irwin's death!

  6. Teiwaz

    You may remember...

    ....the scary (and sexy) TV series U.F.O. with awe; the theme music less so.

    I didn't catch the first run (born early 70's), but I recall catching one episode on rerun and the intro music when I was small, and the music made an impression much more than the episode (I think it might have been 'the Dalotec affair'). It wasn't until the release of Power Themes '90 ( that it came to my attention again. UFO never got as much exposure as Space 1999. Which apparently annoyed Gerry Anderson, as he lost the rights to Space 1999 to Sylvia in the divorce.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: You may remember...

      I do like the way that in Anderson's vision of 1980 (a mere 10 years after the UFO screened on TV) everything would look like Star Trek which came out four years previously. Star Trek was was set in 2260.

      TV Tropes probably has a name for this phenomenon but I'm not going to look for it because TV Tropes is like a time machine, you look for something and you've suddenly travelled four hours into the future.

      1. Mage Silver badge

        TV Tropes is like a time machine

        TV Tropes is great.

        so also is ProjectRho

    2. Howard Sway Silver badge

      Re: You may remember...

      U.F.O may have its flaws, and an inevitable number of duff episodes, but it is just so damn entertaining - which is more than can be said for most Gerry Anderson stuff.

      For example, you can have a super sleek futuristic nuclear powered car so what colour do you choose? Light beige. Or you need a uniform for the all-female moonbase staff, so what's appropriate? Skin tight silver bodysuit and purple wig.

      And it has the most ridiculously bonkers plots. A cat possessed by aliens. Moonrocks that make people hallucinate that they're really just actors in a tv show called U.F.O. A lurid depiction of hippies on an LSD trip who think wow man they've just seen a spaceship land and then meet a grisly end when it turns out they have. Nothing else quite like it (except, appropriately, the Doppelganger film, which is actually very like it due to having much the same cast, and the same out there weirdness)

      1. Alistair Dabbs

        Re: You may remember...

        Vote for your favourite U.F.O. episode and they'll show it on Gerry Anderson Day over on something called Forces TV. Details here.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: show it on ... Forces TV.

          U.F.O. gets recycled on Forces TV quite a lot. If you keep a look out, you can probably get to see all of them.

        2. genghis_uk

          Re: You may remember...

          Any episode with Lt. Ellis in it...

          1. Andrew Scaife
            Paris Hilton

            Re: You may remember...

            There was a set of 3D ViewMaster reels for UFO...yes, the one shot of Lt. Ellis was ... impressive.

            1. Anonymous Coward

              Re: You may remember...

              Ah, memories (1), memories (2), memories (3).

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: You may remember...

              And what I didn't realise was that her (Gabrielle Drake's) brother was Nick Drake, and he did some great 70s music.

  7. b0llchit Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    in the year 2525

    Every single living creature will be dead and dust in 2525. Well, except for some few trees (and Paris' icon).

    Most things created today will be barely recognizable ruins or completely fallen to dust. The Moon will also be, on average, about 19 meters farther away from the earth. To improve the lunar distance I'd suggest to dump some radioactive waste on the far side and call 1999 for help.

    They must've been on acid when making that series. The surviving trees may provide some sap with mental trip-advancing properties and then the series may be reconstructed as an historical documentary. May the future generations dream better than we did.

    1. ChrisElvidge Bronze badge

      Re: in the year 2525

      Zager and Evans didn't think so.

  8. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Doppelganger (1969) also by Anderson

    The video conferencing scene was done by putting actors in television-shaped holes in the set.

    I really hope my work colleagues aren't trapped inside my laptop.

    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Doppelganger (1969) also by Anderson

      Why? Is your porn stash that bad?

  9. Anonymous Coward

    You Can Take The P*ss As Much As You Like...

    But some of the SFX on the likes of Stingray et al still look damned good even today.

    Some of the miniatures are excellent, especially for their time.

    1. Keven E

      Re: You Can Take The P*ss As Much As You Like...

      Faint memories of being fascinated by the Stingray *animatons in the late 60's on early morning TV here in the US, but I think it was a trial screening early on Sat. morning... they certainly didn't show all the episodes, and IIRC by about week 6 or so we were looking for it, but it was no longer showing.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You Can Take The P*ss As Much As You Like...

        Take a look at the first episode here (with links to all the rest).

        Some of it is very childish, but as I say, some of the miniatures are very good for the time. Especially when you consider it was almost 60 years ago.

  10. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

    Live Action Gerry Anderson

    We always said you could still see the strings.

    UFO especially, the Barry Gray theme was always more exciting than the episode. Which tended to be pretty tedious compared to Thunderbirds.

    And I will never forgive him for giving that bastard Joe 90 puppet my face. Chance or no, it was a blight on my childhood.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Live Action Gerry Anderson

      IIRC any kid wearing glasses got called Joe 90. Slightly more original than "four eyes" but only if you used an electron microscope to measure the difference.

      1. Franco

        Re: Live Action Gerry Anderson

        Depended on hair colour where I was. Kids with glasses and pale blonde hair were the milky bar kid. Just as kids with big foreheads (like me) were Tefal.

  11. Russell Chapman Esq.

    Future Gazing

    I've wondered what historians and archaeologists from the future will be able to find from the 21st century. We don't build things to last. Things like the Pyramids will still be around in a thousand years, but what of the construction we have today? Unlikely that modern construction will last more than 150 years. Cars, trains and planes from today won't be around in 1000 years. Then we have data, even the best stored digital data corrupts over time, so much work of our time is only available in digital format, unless we carefully archive and protect this information, it won't be here in 1000 years. In fact I do wonder if we are in a way creating a new dark age, similar to last one, it's not that stuff didn't happen, we simply don't have the records.

    My guess is that in 1000 years, future historians and archaeologists will find a layer of plastic from our time and little else.

    1. brotherelf

      Re: Future Gazing

      Oh, and hipster posters reading "This place is not a place of honor… no highly esteemed deed is commemorated here… nothing valued is here." which is a very interesting, if nerdy, rabbit hole to do down.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Future Gazing

        But how will they understand us without digital archives of Twitter and Facebook?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Future Gazing

      They will probably find a mountain of artefacts from The Plastic Age.

      is an example. A dig at a modern reconstruction of an Iron-Age village was done to see how the houses decayed over time. They found over 2000 plastic items, mostly from the packed lunches of generations of schoolchildren. The ritual purpose of the pilgrimages undertaken by children to sites like this will, of course, be hotly debated.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Future Gazing

        Futurama episode - watch from 11:30 in.

        I'm sure there'll be some Bart Simpson dolls.

      2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Future Gazing

        But archaeologists always label any not-immediately-obvious object or activity as 'ritual'.

        1. Fogcat

          Re: Future Gazing

          Votive offerings

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Future Gazing

            I clicked the up arrow to donate my votive offering.

        2. ThatOne Silver badge

          Re: Future Gazing

          > archaeologists always label any not-immediately-obvious object or activity as 'ritual'

          Obviously, for that's the proper characterization. Since I don't work in IT, me reading every day 'The Register' is a non-obvious activity I can only qualify it as 'a ritual'. Just an example.

    3. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Future Gazing

      I'm not sure that's as problematic as it sounds. The pyramids are still here, but I'm sure there are various things we have built which could also remain here if we didn't do anything to it. There are artistic constructions which we aren't going to take down and won't just decompose on their own. Unless we have a war which destroys them or somebody comes along and really hates them, they will remain there. Remember that we don't have a ton of ancient Egyptian office buildings to investigate; we have the constructions which had an ornamental purpose and were preserved to retain it. We will do the same.

      On data, we have a lot more power to preserve it than our ancestors did. A thousand years ago, there weren't many copies of documents, they were stored on stuff that is really easy to destroy, and copying them took a very long time. A fire or flood in a library would destroy a lot. Just to make it worse, the library was made of wood, people used fire to heat it and see, and it was next to a river so the inhabitants could get something to drink. Lots of information died then and there. Meanwhile, individual data storage devices degrade, but we have the ability to copy information without error and reproduce it on multiple continents in minutes. Also, libraries today have started to buy out Cold War bunkers to store their material. I think those are a bit more resilient.

      Not only digital things. There are millions of paper copies of the same books where our ancestors wouldn't have them. Even with a global catastrophe, the chances of one of those surviving for archaeologists to find it is a lot higher. This also applies to documents which wouldn't have been kept. In centuries past, routine business documents, if they were created, were erased so as to reuse the paper. Eventually, they were just burned or trashed because they weren't needed but the space was. Nowadays, they're just archived because it's cheap to keep a year's records on a tape. Some places will eventually decide they don't need to keep that after all, but some others will keep it out of laziness alone. It's so cheap to store data that I have copies of Wikipedia and a few other encyclopedias on my own media, along with a bunch of nonfiction books and other documents that would be rather nice sources for life today if you needed that. And that's just data I intend to use myself. There are projects to archive all sorts of data with the goal of future availability firmly in mind.

      1. Andy Non Silver badge

        Re: Future Gazing

        It's not just about storing data though. You need the technology to read it. I still have some paper tape reels of some Fortran software I wrote several decades ago, but I'd be hard pushed to find anything to read the tapes and even less so to make sense of the Fortran source code. I've also got a box full of VHS tapes but nothing to play them on. This situation will only get worse as the decades and centuries pass unless the specs of how to make the technology and how the data is compressed / stored and can be played back is also stored and is retrievable.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Future Gazing

          True, but that's just more data. We can store the instructions to decode data and people can find it. Consider the Arctic code archive Github did last year. Included in that is the source code for a lot of things you can use to read files of various rare types. There's undoubtedly a Fortran compiler up there. Even if they can't figure out the instruction set to which the compiler will compile it, they should be able to work out the syntax and reverse-engineer your code if they care enough. The source for FFMPEG isn't on Github (or maybe someone cloned it), but that's likely stored on lots of disks. That's a really useful way of accessing video or audio data once they find it.

          Archaeology is difficult. They have to figure out a lot of details that the creators of the artifacts didn't specify. It won't miraculously be fixed by our ability to create copies of stuff, because they'll still have to work out things like the languages we use and how our stuff worked. It will be made easier though because we have a lot more information for them to find and that information is harder to lose or destroy.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Future Gazing

          "but I'd be hard pushed to find anything to read the tapes"

          The Mk.1 eyeball can read paper tapes. Historians have learned to translate "lost" languages over the years with very little to work with. And paper tape is probably the most resilient storage medium if stored properly.

      2. ThatOne Silver badge

        Re: Future Gazing

        > books

        Those are all totally lost to the future generations, simply because they won't be able to find the power switch...

    4. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Future Gazing

      I've wondered what historians and archaeologists from the future will be able to find from the 21st century.

      A shit-tonne of metal. Before the industrial revolution metal was valued and used carefully, with broken implements being mended wherever possible and melted down for complete reuse otherwise. People moving in frontier lands would burn their house down just so they could retrieve all the nails from the ashes, straighten them out and use them to build their next house. The artefacts we have recovered are primarily ones which were lost or which had to be abandoned to escape war or natural disaster.

      Archaeologists in the future are going to dig up landfill sites to find an incredible concentration of elemental metals: iron, steel, copper, tin, zinc and aluminium from old or broken locks, RSJs, window frames, roofing sheets, cables, ducting, pipework, frying pans, toasters, alarm clocks, tin cans, bottle tops and everything else that we chuck out. It's only in the last 25 years that we've had any reasonable degree of household recycling, and arguably the level we have is still not high enough. They'll be able to follow the development of battery technology through the decades. They'll be able to identify the point at which touchscreen displays were invented when the landfill strata starts to include distinctive slivers of titanium and rare earth compounds.

      There's another thing which will likely happen within a thousand years: the archaeologists will be competing with the industrialists to dig up the landfill sites. Before long humanity will have mined out the most accessible natural deposits of useful minerals, so that if there's still a technological society in the future -- and especially if it's one trying to develop and recover after a collapse -- they may find 20th century landfill sites to be the most readily accessible source of nearly pure metals.

      Side note: a society recovering from a technological collapse may struggle to make it to their industrial revolution, because there will be no coal or oil they can reach by muscle power alone. Perhaps they'll have to figure out a way to mass-produce and work iron, and to run steam engines, by burning all our plastic waste.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Future Gazing

        "within a thousand years: the archaeologists will be competing with the industrialists to dig up the landfill sites"

        Very likely mining will win.

        "there will be no coal or oil they can reach by muscle power alone"

        Back to charcoal. A society relying entirely on renewal resources will be more frugal.

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: Future Gazing

          Back to charcoal.

          Yes, but there's a reason why we shifted from making charcoal to digging up coal and making coke. They're going to be at a huge disadvantage in terms of the ratio of energy output for effort input.

          Basically, our planet (and perhaps many others) gets perhaps one or two shots at producing an intelligent species with the opportunity to build an industrial society. If the first one fails after (or because of) exhausting its natural resources, the second one isn't going to get much of a chance unless it appears some time after a second Carboniferous era -- half a billion years in total, say. After another half-billion years the oceans will have boiled away, so that's it for surface life and all the advantages that carries.

          If we had been stuck at the 17th century stage of animal power and windmills, with no fossil fuels to uncover, how likely is it that we would have found a way through the metallurgical maze to recognise and develop efficiency improvements like rare-earth magnets or solar cells, or to manufacture drills and dynamos capable of usefully tapping geothermal power?

    5. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Future Gazing

      As long as it's not a layer of compressed shoes....

    6. JimC

      Re: a layer of plastic from our time and little else.

      Plastics will have long degraded, although I'm not quite sure what they'll degrade into. Some sort of vaguely oily stain in the ground polluted with all sorts of odd elements perhaps? Maybe more than 1,000 years for the process to complete. Concrete structures perhaps? Rebar will presumably corrode out and shatter reinforced concrete structures, but roman concrete survives.

  12. Potemkine! Silver badge

    if you don't mash things up in the right way, you'll get the future wrong.

    Maybe not. If any possible future exists in an alternate dimension then you could maybe never be wrong, whatever you imagine.

    Oh, and that Slipknot-Spice Girls mashup?

    Heretic! Vade retro, Satana!

    In term of mashup, I prefer that kind of thing. Personal choice.

    1. William Towle

      > if you don't mash things up in the right way, you'll get the future wrong.


      "They eat a great many of these. They peel them with their metal knives, boil them for twenty of their minutes ... then they smash them all to bits. They are clearly a most primitive people, ha ha ha [ROFL]"

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dunno about "middle aged Brits" - some of us remember Fireball XL5, Supercar, and Four Feather Falls.


    1. genghis_uk

      I wondered if anyone was going to mention these - congratulations sir --->

      (too young to remember any of them originally but what they were doing in the early 60s was amazing for the time)

    2. Blofeld's Cat
      Thumb Up

      I too recall all of the above (and their theme music), along with "Torchy the Battery Boy".

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Aaah. Zoonie the Lazoon. My earliest TV recollection.

      And we're still only 'middle-aged'. Unless you were watching it when you were 20!

    4. CAPS LOCK

      When these matters come up there's never any love for...

      ...Space Patrol. (Planet Patrol in a certain place)

  14. Sandstone

    International Gerry Anderson Day

    Satisfactory - most satisfactory.

    1. Blofeld's Cat

      Re: International Gerry Anderson Day

      "Satisfactory - most satisfactory."

      Indeed Dr Beaker.

  15. cosymart

    Fireball XL5

    Fireball XL5 had the best intro music:

    1. dajames

      Re: Fireball XL5

      Fireball XL5 had the best intro music

      Recently released on CD/LP/download by Silva Screen Records!

      How could one resist?

  16. antman


    Some of us remember Peter Cook and Dudley Moore's take on the puppetry:

  17. TheProf


    Stingray gets my vote. Great signature tune. Love the battling horns in it.

    UFO. Signature tune was so much better than the easy-listening-jazz-lite music that played in most of the domestic settings. Who'd have thought that hard-core-bland-out would the the music of choice in 'the future'?

    There is a DVD of some of Anderson's lesser known work. Worth a look if you want to see a failure or two in amongst the successful stuff.

  18. JassMan

    This is so true

    Brains' videocall smartwatch makes a great case in point. In the real world, we don't like to integrate our tech, we prefer to carry it around even if doing so is clunky and inconvenient.

    I have read several scifi novels where the characters have embedded tech. The only 2 plausible ones were:

    1) an ID chip in hand or arm which acted as payment RFid and the good guys surgically removed, then put on the outside under fake skin so they could change it at will because the bad guys had subverted the government systems which mandated same;

    2) a standardised thought transmitter which could control any local device such as a phone, or desktop (alias SOCs in wall screens in the story)

    There is a simple reason that nothing else would be embedded and that is that technology changes so fast that no one would want or could afford the surgery every year. In the first of the above, the story itself was really about why we shouldn't go down that route in the future.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: This is so true

      These are points "futurists" should really keep in mind. They always come up with technology ideas without even thinking about whether people would want them if they became feasible. Science fiction writers do the same thing, but at least they're not necessarily saying that we're going to have those technologies. A lot of futurists appear to have the kind of technology experience which comes from reading about but never actually developing things, and perhaps this explains why they think, for instance, it is easy to make a computer converse with a human on general topics.

  19. Rol

    The Secret Service

    Stanley Unwin as the head of Britain's secret service, while passing himself off as a vicar. Armed with a tiny man in a suitcase, he could fix anything, even a speeding ticket from the police.

    Now that's what I call a mash-up.

    Seemingly I alone watched that series, as none of my peers ever recalled it. Even when mentioning the unforgettable theme tune with a tolling church bell during the opening credits. For a while I thought I had dreamt it until WWW came along and eventually downloaded it as proof to my disbelieving mates.

    Lew Grade considered that it would be incomprehensible to American audiences and pulled the series before it first screened. What? Only American's would find it incomprehensible? I think all oxygen breathing life the universe over would find it incomprehensible, including Mrs Unwin.

    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

      Re: The Secret Service

      Interesting that his car appeared to be the two seater Siva Roadster, the four seater Tourer version was better known as Bessie in Doctor Who.

      One actually appeared on Blue Peter as a example of a kit car, which is probably how the DW production office became aware of it & decided to use it.

      A friend of mine managed to retrieve a complete (Potentially last remaining) set of moulds & shipped them from UK to Toronto to build on a Spitfire chassis.

  20. Social Ambulator

    Thus spake Zarathustra

    No need for lower class popular music to do the future, although mashing up the two Strauses was perhaps a bunch too much. (Nicht wahr, Hal?)

  21. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

    Space 1999

    "None of the futuristic characters has tech surgically implanted into their bodies."

    David Kano - He took part in an experimental program on Earth to link the memory and calculating ability of a computer to the thinking ability of the human brain. A complex of fibre sensors was implanted in the cortex of his brain: the other 3 subjects ended up as cabbages.

  22. Scott 53

    "Fanning around"?

    I don't know about you, but I'm usually to be found fannying.

  23. Jeffrey Nonken

    Some decades ago I heard a slow jazz version of the Speed Racer theme with a female singer. I thought it was very well done, but I didn't think to try to record the artist's name, and I've been unable to find it since.

    Alas, while the Internet is a vast and immensely useful resource, it does occasionally let me down.

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