Recently I had the opportunity to spend a short while checking out Wired’s Nextfest at the Javits Center in NYC. I had been eagerly anticipating the show for a few months now… checking out the photos from previous incarnations… reading engaging accounts by those who have been… swallowing the Wired spin machine whole. Essentially I was pumped to get a glimpse of the future.
And it is perhaps that level of excitement that was setting me up for the ultimate letdown. The place just didn’t measure up… didn’t radiate with the same electric hum that reading about it did. All the hope, the wonder, the kinetic weight that ran through the written accounts of the show seemed to outpace the actuality of the event. The pregnant promise of the future was aborted by the cold vanilla pain of here and now.
Sure there were some interesting things on display, but nothing really mind-blowing. The hall had a kind of unfinished feel to it… like they were up all night trying to bring the future into view, but they only had enough time to stitch together a few shattered visions. There was no totality… no enveloping sense of tomorrow being intrinsically better than today… just a little greener… a little lighter.
Ironically the whole experience left me with a new-found respect for Wired as a magazine. The editors of Wired are able to paint a picture… to conjure a sense of the future that the actual toys in their stories fall short of. Reading the average issue of Wired is a joyride through the streets of future worlds. There is potential dripping from every page.
In person… where the cracks are visible… where the noises less elegant… these toys tell a much, much blander tale.