[A man in his late 20s shuffles down the aisle of a bright, LED-lit bookstore, his eyes focused on the spine of each text]
[He pauses at the book, a large matte black text with red type on the side, removing it from the shelf]
THE END OF EMPIRE: HOW NATO EXPANSION LED TO THE GREAT DOWNFALL OF THE WEST
[An older woman reaches up to grab a book beside the man's head, looking down on the text in his hands]
"Hard to find copies of that these days. I know this is one of few in Mumbai. One of my colleagues got the virtual release, that he uses for material in his class. Originals must be at least 4000 yuan. Not sure what that converts to."
"Yeah, I study power structures and how they dissolve. So this is the masterclass. We're just starting to model this precisely. Trying to identify the governance methods that will keep people stable over long periods of time."
[The older woman nods, forces a smile and briefly drops eye contact, stepping away to leave]
“Deer Data: The language and social life of animatronics: deer, bats, and dragonflies”
Deer were some of the first artificial life forms to live wild in forests. Today, biologists, engineers, and anthropologists come from all over the world to study the social lives of adomesticted animatronics. As a means of understanding animal and insect-borne diseases, smaller robotics became more prevalent in these environments and efforts to protect artificial species from poachers or collectors increasingly surfaced.
Memes seeking the true meaning of singer song writer d'angelo surfaced a decade later asking: "what is d'angelo?". The trend became pivotal to BLM.
The Great Flattener
Digital technology revolutionised global communications. But the homogenisation effect — as observed in music with the dispersal of tape recorders in the 20th century — soon took hold. Distinct local styles, craft, tastes, media, and language began to fade away. This phenomenon gained traction in pop culture following the 2024 episode in the TV series Atlanta, titled, ‘One People,’ when Darius gets lost in a restaurant that could be in any major city, suggesting how place-less the world had become. Academics now suggest the virality of this insight on TikTok led to a decrease in social media use.
Today, the social media mania of the early 21st century is described as The Great Flattener, a nod to how it affected cultures across the globe.
It hummed a long and steady static that felt oddly satisfying. At first, Berlin couldn’t tell where it was coming from, but then it hummed a little more. She looked around the garden, familiar with almost every weed and plant. As she got closer, it dripped. The sound that came from it was as if a drop of water had fallen in a cave.
Nuzzled at the base of a bush, she finally found it. She wanted to touch it and refrained at first, mesmerised by how it glistened. It appeared light, and when she finally reached out, it fit perfectly in the palm of her hands. She could barely feel it, so she clasped it tighter with her fingers, afraid it would leap away.
“Hectre!” she called out, stunned.
Once she adjusted, she took a better look at it. Her chest and head immediately felt heavy. It felt like it had been raining for days on one of the warmest days. The sun peered through the huddle of trees surrounding them, and Hectre rushed over from where he was digging.
“What’s wrong?” he asks.
“I don’t know”
“What do you need?”
Berlin turned to face Hectre more directly, showing him what she had picked up.
“It’s beautiful” he exhaled.
“What is it?” Berlin replied.
Hectre shrugged and moved his hands closer to hers. The device dripped again but this time louder; so piercing that Hectre quickly covered his ears.
“Put it down!” he yelled.
Berlin looked at the device puzzled and curious.
“I can’t” she whispered.