Dictionary of the Future
Faith Popcorn &
Adam Hanft
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Buy *Dictionary of the Future* online Dictionary of the Future:
The Words, Terms, and Trends That Define the Way We'll Live, Work, and Talk

Faith Popcorn & Adam Hanft
432 pages
November 2001
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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It's unlikely there are two people better suited to the audacious task of predicting where our world -- and with it our language -- are headed. Trend-spotter Faith Popcorn (author of Eveolution, Clicking and The Popcorn Report, and founder of the marketing consultancy Faith Popcorn's BrainReserve) and ad-man and marketer Adam Hanft (founder of his own marketing firm, as well as the man behind the "Flick Your Bic" campaign) bring together their rarely-erring instincts for what people (read: consumers) will want in the not-so-distant future, to compile the often amusing and always thought-provoking Dictionary of the Future.

This is much more than a mere compendium of catchphrases and cutting-edge slang; it's a window opening onto the possible -- nay, likely -- shape of tomorrow's society. The totality of human knowledge is doubling at a furious rate, making the Renaissance man an ever more rare bird. Dictionary of the Future makes it possible for the average (but intelligent) reader to enjoy an overview of the world as it might soon be, across a variety of disciplines and -ologies. The evolving faces of the arts, family life, crime, government, medicine, the environment and telecommunications are but a taste of the sundry arenas in which Popcorn (nee Plotnik, for the record) and Hanft elucidate provocative terms, both extant and imagined, which may become more familiar to an increasingly hurried, harried, and attention-deficited population:

  • crackcines: vaccines in development to inoculate against the effects of drugs like cocaine, PCP, meth, even nicotine
  • telesprawl: an unintended consequence of telecommuting, when office-liberated workers relocate beyond typical commuting range, creating new kinds of environmental stresses and strains in formerly rural neighborhoods
  • womb service: the controversial practice of out-of-body fertilization and gestation
  • continuous partial attention: describes the way that today's computers and wireless devices render us ever-vigilant about the flow of information, but never fully engaged in any one subject -- results in halfway thinking, uncompleted tasks and a decline in productivity
Dictionary of the Future can be read front to back or by jumping to related topics and terms. Either way, it's a fascinating exercise in smartly imagining the world we are creating for ourselves.

© 2002 by Sharon Schulz-Elsing for Curled Up With a Good Book

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