Pretty soon, there will be an Ultimately Converged Device. When TV and radio are routinely digitally served, and enough satellites are up there, we'll all be using this UCD. Of course it will provide all voice communications, email and messaging. With the growth of services like danger.com, it will soon be doing video grabbing and transmitting in real time, as well as still picture taking and sending. It will replace books and publishing. All communications -- person to person, news, entertainment (movies, television, radio), literature, publishing both academic and popular -- will be over this UCD, and it will be called . . .
Kids who grow up with The Touch won't even notice when the federal government shuts down the Post Office. Nobody uses it anyhow. Bookstores won't have books, just seats where you hang out and Face while you nibble and sip and look over the magazines and books by Touch. Face? Oh, that's what you call it when you talk to someone who's there with you: there's Facing, and Touching. Of course, lots of people Face and Touch at the same time. That's the best, to be Facing with a bunch of your best friends somewhere really zippy and Touching people all over the world, too.
Scientists will publish all their papers only on The Touch. You'll Touch the news on it, Touch movies on demand; Touch live music and recordings. "Hey, you Touch the Yohimbe Barks' new track yet?" The Touch will have a little heating element in it, activated by anyone who wants to give you a warm Touch. A very low voltage, minuscule wattage tingle can also be sent as a zippy Touch. There won't be any other way to communicate. It'll all be by Touch.
So here's a question, with a multiple choice answer. You decide your answer, then email the URL for this page to everyone you know.
In 2025, or whenever you think enough time has passed to make Touching the norm, an incident like the beating of Rodney King takes place in, say, Los Angeles again. Maybe this time a Mexican Foreign Guest Employee is getting wailed on in East LA. What happens?
1. In 48 hours, Los Angeles is reduced to a smoking heap of charred rubble.
The twelve people witnessing this atrocity, Touching their friends all over the city with realtime video and commentary, set off a riot that makes Watts look like a church picnic. It's been a long hot summer, the chronic water shortages have everyone on edge, and the police attempts to prevent the witnesses from Touching fail miserably. Of course there are just too many witnesses to stop the Touching entirely, and a few people Touching from the scene is all it takes.
2. Not much.
A few liberals make a stink, the police get a slap, and that's pretty much that. I mean, you can Touch this kind of thing going on somewhere in the world just about any time. Shit happens, y'know?
3. Less than nothing.
The precedent for including blocking routines in communications devices was set by the passage of the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act in 2003. The National Homeland Security and Citizen's Protection Act of 2008 gave all law enforcement agencies both the legal right and the moral responsibility, and the technical means, to monitor and block any communications that might foster dangerous unrest.
The very efficient LAPD officer monitors at headquarters, Touching the units built into the street cops' uniforms, move to block all private Touching from the scene. They also retroactively purge the witnesses' video, pictures and comments from The Touch. No one except the immediate witnesses knows anything about the incident, and they have no proof of it.
The offending Mexican Foreign Guest Employee dies in custody.
Which answer will turn out to be the true one? It's your choice.