Epic 2014

Googlezon – The past future of news media

Do you remember Epic 2014? It was a short Flash video released in January 2004 by Robin Sloan and Matt Thompson at the Berlin-based Museum of Media History.

I was doing a lot of talks and teaching in those years and I showed this film many times. Audiences usually viewed it with a streak of disbelieving horror but, hey, look at us now.

It covers the history of digital news media up to roughly December 2003, followed by predictions as to how it might evolve over the decade ahead. It’s a rather slow watch but remember it was made in the early days of Flash multimedia software. It’s definitely worth 9 minutes of your time, so have patience!

Epic 2014 is a fascinating survey of what did happen and what could have happened but didn’t (as far as we know, Googlezon is not real (yet)). But what’s missing, of course, Facebook. Its first iteration had been launched the year before as Facemash, an online service where Harvard students could rate each others’ attractiveness (yes, yuk) but it was closed down after two days. The following January, the same month that Epic 2014 went live, Mark Zuckerberg registered http://www.thefacebook.com and the rest, as they say, is history.

This narrow time-squeak between Sloan and Thompson’s Flash movie and the launch of the ‘real’ Googlezon makes their film even more fascinating to watch.

On a personal note, Robin Sloan also wrote one of my all-time favourite novels, Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore which, amusingly, was published in 2014.