Ten things that will disappear in our lifetime

A friend of mine recently sent me this list of the “9 Things That Will Disappear In Our Lifetime.”

In brief, the list is: Post office, checks, newspapers, books, land line telephones, music, television, “things,” and privacy.

This image is courtesy of Northern Illinois University http://www.niu.edu and this caption is an example of attribution, aka giving credit to the source.

I was going to write about these massive social and cultural changes, and their affect on science fiction writing. For example, in my upcoming novel “Stellarnet Rebel,” phones, TV sets, mp3 players and computers no longer exist. Everything — conversations, books, music, vids, news — happens on the net. Personal devices are worn like clothing. Access is available via table tops, walls, and other surfaces.

But then I changed my mind.

Instead, I want to add a 10th item to the list: Plagiarism.

Because when I went to track down a link to the “9 Things” list, I found not only Charles Scott Kimball’s March 11, 2011 post, but also several other posts at later dates… with the exact same text… posted to various blogs by other authors, and presented as if it was original content… without attribution to any original author. As Charles notes, he is not the originator either, but his was the earliest entry I could find in the Googler.

I love the Internet with its social networks, blogs, memes and rapid sharing of information. I think this is an amazing development for humanity. And I am a big fan of Creative Commons. But every single one of those CC licenses includes a requirement to give credit where credit is due.

The source of the plagiarism scourge can also be its solution. Plagiarism is made easier by the Internet, but it also allows us to throw a block of text into a search engine and discover where it’s being reproduced.

What we need now is for someone to invent an application that will save time by searching for instances of an author’s work and automatically posting a comment on every offending website, to the effect of: “This work appears to be a copy of an original post by (your name here) on (date).”

The application might also compile a database of possible offenders, for follow up by the author… or a lawyer. Which could turn into bigger business than ambulance chasing. That might be an interesting premise for a SF novel: A dystopian future where copyright laws have become ridiculously oppressive and corporations own everything from the word “love” to the phrase “Happy Birthday” to the color blue, and lawyers scour the net for offenses… But, that’s a topic for another time. lol


J. L. Hilton


  1. This is Charles Kimball and you’re right — I’m not the original author either. I would have liked to have given credit where it was due; you will note i said as much in my introduction. Unfortunately when I did a Google search like you did, I found many copies of the essay, but none of them had the original author’s name on it. Later I expanded the list to forty items, and posted it on my main website: http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/holybook/articles/obsolete.html


    1. Thanks, Charles! I admire your honesty in noting you weren’t the author. I found this same post on many blogs, all portrayed as if it was their own work — even in the comments and replies to comments, people took credit for it’s insight and cleverness. Ugh.

      Love the updated list. Well, some items I don’t love, like the loss of bees! You might be able to add chicken pox soon… my kids were given vaccinations for it and have never had to go through an infection like I did.

  2. But…but…I don’t want books and newspapers to disappear.
    * whimpers*

    In addition to the plagiarism application you describe I’d love for there to be something similar for art. I’m a very visual person and I find gorgeous images on the internet all the time. Trying to track down the original artist so you can discover and enjoy more of their work? So hard!

    1. I don’t think books and news will disappear. Neither will music. Their delivery devices will just change. 🙂

      An art application would be awesome! I would think it would be similar to face recognition programs… like this one Google is developing: http://www.fastcompany.com/1768963/google-may-be-planning-to-face-recognize-the-web

  3. I think this technology actually exists on some levels. It would be interesting to see it applied, but of course what institution could have the capacity to prosecute such a huge number of infractions? It boggles the mind. And I don’t want anyone to trademark my favorite color, red.:)

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