1. Spice Fiction

    Spice Fiction Member

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    Avoiding technology specifics

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Spice Fiction, Nov 11, 2016.

    I'm concerned with technology that may disappear, such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

    For example, I may have a character say, "Hey, follow my photo feed!" instead of Instagram. If any of these go out of fashion or bankrupt in the next few years (see Yahoo, MySpace, AOL) I don't want it to affect the book.

    How do others handle this in their stories?
     
  2. SethLoki

    SethLoki Retired Autodidact Contributor

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    I know where you're coming from. Trying to write a (timeless) classic in the attic once, I left out mobile phones, car brands, dress codes, musical backdrops... and some other bits—all got a bit difficult I'll confess. My effort ended up the opposite and made me feel I'd be seen as having been too mysterious (and from that even worse: conceited). An author that wouldn't share. Tssk.

    If it's fiction in our world, I'd worry less about your time stamp—just tone the references down a bit/rebrand if you feel you need to; people use social media to varying degrees. But most know what's what. I'm sure being too vague may jump out as being deliberate and pull one from engaging. Being out of fashion is only temporary too—your story will garner historical interest in the grander scheme.
     
  3. Spice Fiction

    Spice Fiction Member

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    Thanks for the perspective. I've also thought about alternating a name brand and generic equivalent (Instagram/photo feed) for both variety and clarity.
     
  4. NiallRoach

    NiallRoach Contributor Contributor

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    Seeing 'photo feed' is going to yank a current day reader out of a novel a thousand times more than 'instagram', and if you're lucky enough to have your works become classics, read by readers a hundred years from now, it's going to be a nice touch of historic verisimilitude.
    I don't understand why this is an issue, unless your plot hinges on a unique function or nuance of a specific service. it's just a name.
     
  5. Ebenezer Lux

    Ebenezer Lux Member

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    I don't see a problem with using "photo feed" as opposed to an actual brand because it clearly gets across the purpose of the platform.
     
  6. CaitlinCarver

    CaitlinCarver Member

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    Well, it really depends on what genre you're writing in. If you're writing a science-fiction novel set more than 5 years in the future, leave out those brands and actively replace them with your own. For example, Instagram could become something like MySelfie. I don't see Facebook going anywhere, unless your story is set in the next generation or further.

    If you're writing a work set in the present, then use those brand names. It's practically your responsibility as a writer to preserve the past in some way, and if someone picks up a copy of your book in 500 years (assuming that we're still around and that person knows what a book is), it'd be almost magical to get a glimpse into the window of time your book covers.
     
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  7. Spice Fiction

    Spice Fiction Member

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    Thanks for your perspective. As far as Facebook, it could become something only people born before a certain year use very soon... I recall many years back a "technology expert" being asked, "What is the next Yahoo?" He replied, "Yahoo is the next Yahoo, they keep innovating." The correct answer would have been, "Google". I'm trying to avoid a line in my book that reads, "I wanted to learn more, so I Yahoo-ed it."
     
  8. sprirj

    sprirj Senior Member

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    Ok turn it on its head a little. Try using MySpace or yahoo etc. Does that make the read jarring? It wouldn't bother me, I'd just know exactly when this book is set, and if the book is picked up by publishers, a film studio whatever, then they would make any changes they wanted anyway.

    Imagine a 1920s novel saying, "we drove away in a car" rather than "we drove away in the Ford T". I know which I find more engaging.
     
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  9. Denegroth

    Denegroth Banned

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    It didn't hurt A Street Car Named Desire.
     
  10. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    "Photo feed" would distract me, and, yes, when Instagram goes away, that will distract me, too.

    My first thought is that the word "blog" has been around for more than fifteen years, and seems likely to stick around for a while. I know that it's not the same as a photo feed, but could you shift a little and use it?

    I realize that's just one answer, but I suspect that you'll need to solve this case by case. To me, something that came and went quickly feels "dated", which is irritating, while something that was around for a decade or a few decades provides period color, which is enjoyable. Same thing, different flavor.
     
  11. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    From what I've heard, the average page from Moby Dick isn't about a whole lot except the technology specifics of Melville's day ;)
     
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  12. NiallRoach

    NiallRoach Contributor Contributor

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    I think that's a little different because of the rise of brands in the modern period. Of course, in Melville's time, there were prestigious producers of goods, and people would recognise their names, but consider the Victorians' attitude to carriages when compared to our attitude to cars.
     
  13. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    Exactly :cool: That was the world he lived in, this is the world we live in.
     
  14. EdFromNY

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I'm chuckling as I read through this because, as someone who writes historical fiction, part of what I look for when researching are just these little details that time-stamp the period I'm writing about. But I realize your problem is different.

    OTOH, I'm not sure it's a problem. Dickens and Trollope wrote with references to the details of living in the 19th Century. Mark Twain time-stamped the social attitudes of his time. Reading their works now, we use those details to form a mental picture of what living in that time was like. But that's not what makes their works endure. They endure because they are compelling stories, with memorable characters. My own advice is to focus on doing the same, and let your technological references flow naturally as demanded by the story. Don't worry about what people will think if they read it in 2115. Make it compelling now.

    Good luck.
     
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  15. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    A lot of times, old technology and sayings influence new ones so things like that may stick around longer than you think.

    If I tell you to Xerox something, you know exactly what I mean, regardless of whether or not Xerox even still makes copiers.

    You're always going to "roll down" your windows despite cars not having those in 20 years.

    I can still "send someone a telegram" despite that not existing for 100 years.

    Brands too, if they're big now, people will still understand it later. If I'm reading a book from the 30ths and a scene happens in Krogers or the Piggly Wiggly, it certainly doesn't take me out of the scene. I've never been to one, I've never seen one, and I'm not even sure they still exist, but I know they're grocery stores.
     
  16. Spice Fiction

    Spice Fiction Member

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    I'm jotting these all down on my Olivetti.
     
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  17. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    And I can infer that that's either a paper notepad or an electronic tablet, and I'm not aware of paper notepads carrying any kind of brand loyalty.
     
  18. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    I didn't know it either but I did guess right. I assumed it was a typewriter. Interesting since I've made references to a Remington before without saying specifically what it is. Maybe I should.
     
  19. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    (goes on Google) Wow, look at that.

    I like Remington typewriters. Never used them, but I like saying "Remington" and "Remington typewriter."

    Do you like 1920's Jazz by any chance?
     
  20. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    I like Jazz but not sure I've ever heard 20s Jazz.
     
  21. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    I'm a Jazz Vampire by Marion Harris mentions a Remington typewriter at one point: the first half is just a dark jazz song about how much she likes writing dark jazz songs, but the second half is about what it's like to be a musician with a day job and how she has to cut back on work, art, or sleep in order to fit everything into a 24 hour day. She chooses art over sleep :)

    Oddly enough, the Remington brand name did not feel disruptive to me. See how well I tied this tangent back into the conversation we were having?
    :rofl:

    ... I'm a child
     
  22. tonguetied

    tonguetied Contributor Contributor

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    I am thinking that in about fifty years, probably a lot less, the ability to scan our brains as we travel about will be reality and everything will be recorded, so the replacement for facebook, etc. will be something like "mindmeld" without the Vulcan fingers needed. Minority Report is along those lines so maybe "precog" will take hold.
     
  23. tonguetied

    tonguetied Contributor Contributor

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    Now I want to read a story where the culprit is caught by finger print smudges from using carbon paper.

    Simpson17866: looks like you are getting into that jazz music after all.
     

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