What (Still) May Happen in the Next 100 Years

In 1900, John Elfreth Watkins made a number of predictions about what the world would be like in 2000. A piece entitled What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years with 28 of them was published in the Christmas issue of the Ladies’ Home Journal.

I found a reference to his seminal article in Thomas Lombardo’s Contemporary Futurist Thought: Science Fiction, Future Studies, and Theories and Visions of the Future in the Last Century. Watkins was not a science-fiction author or a particularly known futurist. He was apparentñy a Civil Engineer but details about his life are mixed up between John Elfreth Watkins Senior and Junior – father and son. (This seems to be the case while I am writing this at Wikipedia).

10 years ago, Watkins came back to life when the Saturday Evening Post’s history editor published a feature praising Watkins’ accuracy. Many other journals republished or ellaborated emphasizing Watkins’ hits and misses.

Re-reading the article today, what I can see is that some of this predictions are still timely and more necessary than ever. After a not particularly hot summer in Spain, I am thinking of prediction #5: No Mosquitoes nor Flies. Insects screens will be unnecessary. But it is also probably the case with his perhaps most debated and less understood prediction #3: There will be No C, X, or Q in our every-day alphabet, where I guess that he was actually envisioning that writing might eventually disappear…

Spelling by sound will have been adopted, first by the newspapers. English will be a language of condensed words expression condensed ideas and will be more extensively spoken than any other. Russian will rank second.

In any case, delicious reading as it is usually the case with past futures


Featured Image: December 1900 Christmas Cover for The Ladies Home Journal.

One comment

  1. What is interesting is that most “predictions” were optimistic and most of them became basically correct. They believed in a better future and were looking forward to it. However, it seems now pessimism is all around with gloomy views of a terrible world with catastrophic predictions (see your last entry for example…). I pity really, because I do not think there is really ground for such a pessimism.

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