Rollerball is a classic 1975 film (MGM) leaps ahead to a future world (like NOW) with amazing accuracy. The story foretells an age of violent physical contact sports, stars and celebrities dominating society with enormous numbers of wildly involved fans. Competition rules all life and Jonathan (James Caan) is the iconic Rollerballer of his day; playing to screaming millions, surrounded by large screen TVs (not yet invented in 1975).
In this visionary world: National governments have succumb to Multinational Corporations (wow; just like today). Females were everywhere in the work force but in Jonathan’s crowd these “low cut tea length sheath – Prada wearing, straight haired, fashion plates” were also openly wooing the richest most powerful “alpha males” trading-up at the drop of a hat (unheard of behavior and dress in 1975 unisex). Truth is: Rollerball’s writers got it 100% right and we are it!
Seeing his world as a wreck, Jonathon sets out to discover “how it got this way.” After failing to find a book to give him the information, he travels to Zurich to the main frame, where all the worlds’ knowledge was stored. In speaking with an absent minded professor type, he discovers all the world’s books have been transferred from paper and print to “E data” and all knowledge is now available in EBooks only (didn’t have them in ’75). The professor is fretting and upset, however, because some data was evaporating: “oh my we have lost the entire 13th Century, we have no idea what happened!!!” Indeed much of the story of the human experience was GONE!
For years I have seen data disappear from my own computer. I assumed it was because I was a “klutz” being assured by “E-Genius” friends that electronic data could “NEVER” disappear. After watching “Rollerball” a few weeks back I opened “The Economist” (April 28 ’12 – p. 16) to read “Bit Rot; the world is losing its ability to reconstruct history.” I read unless data is transferred to NEW HARDWARE every five years it is in danger AND under no circumstance can data be retrieved after 12 years without a major reengineer.
Before I’m accused of being “priggish,” know, “I am all for E-Books.” My new The Jesus Book, now in print, will go to the nook in September. I think text books and workbook should go “E” at once, sparing students 50 pounds on their backs. But realizing American’s propensity to gush the new and crucify the old, forever lowering cost and the value of everything to nothing, I need to remind us that knowledge is the most valuable possession we humans have. Most of us don’t have the common sense to use it enough; but the most precious tool in the quest for civilization is a book, well researched and kept to read and reference for centuries.
So if you need a trade book or a how-to-book go for “E.” But, if you are purchasing literature that may help those yet to come understand how we got here and how we lived or need research data exploring a phenomenon that may lead to an increase in civilization in decades to come, consider owning and keeping a valuable piece of history- a real book.
If we’re not careful our technology may put an end to our past, leaving a world that does nothing but play Rollerball, lost eternally in search of a future it cannot find – For God’s Sake.
Dr. Britt Minshall is an author of several books and a speaker on societal behaviors impacting politics, religion and wealth. He travels and ministers extensively in Haiti. He is a Pastor Emeritus in The United Church of Christ, a Minister in the Full Gospel Fellowship and a regular contributor on Fox Television Network, Public Radio, and National media. He is also a former Security Agency operator and INTERPOL Officer. His police career was compromised when he became a Freedom Rider in the mid- sixties.
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