Ticketmaster May Not Be What Arthur C. Clarke Had In Mind

You don’t have to value culture and be a sci-fi geek to appreciate the 1:34 second video featuring a conversation from 1974 with visionary author Arthur C. Clarke; although it does make it that much more awesome. Sure, Clarke accurate predicts home computing and the internet decades before they entered mainstream society but the fascinating bit is the reference points Clarke offers while imagining how things will unfold.

The real highpoint is at 0:33 where in the course of listing off the sort of everyday tasks people will accomplish through networked computers, Clarke casually tosses off “theater reservations.”

Clarke was an optimist’s optimist so I don’t know how thrilled he would be at the state of today’s online ticket buying experience but setting that aside for the moment, I’m curious to know what you take away from this video. Does Clarke’s casual reference mean anything within the context of today’s culture debates? If so, what?

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6 Responses to Ticketmaster May Not Be What Arthur C. Clarke Had In Mind

  1. Cameron Fri, Apr 6, 2012 at 11:23 am #

    Arthur C. Clarke was certainly spot-on with his predictions.

    What really struck me was the NOISE of all those huge computers in that room!

    • Drew McManus Fri, Apr 6, 2012 at 11:25 am #

      Ha! you and me both 🙂 Between the equipment and the air handlers, it was quite a bit to filter out.

    • Janis Fri, Apr 6, 2012 at 7:16 pm #

      Minor tangential point — it’s still that noisy, it’s just that the noise has been sequestered in shopping-mall-sized datacenters that we access through increasingly dumb terminals. We don’t get the noise anymore, but it’s still there. It’s hard to have a conversation in most rack-heavy datacenter spaces, or even network centers. The cooling requirements are insane, and either a majority or a significant minority of the power requirements of such centers go to cooling, which is always noisy.

      Computer noise is a bit like factory farming in that the more we centralize, the more remote the unpleasant realities become. 🙂

      I remember when the net first took off — the instant it became even a possibility to conceive of such a thing, everyone I knew was immediately complaining that they couldn’t sign up for classes, order tickets, order pizza, or buy things over it.

      The biggest part of it has of course been the gradual erosion of the line between consumer and producer. The net allows most anyone to have a strong creative presence and has enabled niche production and consumption on a level that never existed before. Another type of de-centralization I suppose, a cultural one, where everyone doesn’t get their meat products nor their music from the same few corporate sources. Many things in our culture seem to have gone from decentralized to highly centralized and back again. Now that I think about it, it’s an interesting parallel.

  2. Greg Tue, Apr 10, 2012 at 7:04 pm #

    Remember that Ticketmaster was started just 2 years after this interview by 2 music grad students and their business friend at Arizona State University who just wanted to simplify the logistics of selling tickets at Gammage! Then they applied and expanded it to other venues. Whatever your opinion of the fee-hell model they use and other aspects of their current business, it’s undeniable that created a system that certainly changed the way we buy tickets. Something closer to what Clarke envisioned anyway.

    As far as the mention of theater tickets implying some level of high cultural importance, Franklin Roosevelt mentioned in his “second bill of rights” speech in 1944 that everyone should have a job that provides money “enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation.” How many political talking-heads today would include recreation activities anywhere near the same echelon as food and clothing?

    It’s too bad modern society often forgets that life is hardly worth living if you never get to enjoy it.

    • Drew McManus Wed, Apr 11, 2012 at 9:27 am #

      LOL, I guess the blog topic really acts as a blinder for some of my comments in each article. I was looking at Ticketmaster solely through the arts org perspective as opposed to the overall impact on the service on how patrons interact with presenters. Nonetheless, I certainly agree with your point of view but between that point to how the company treats its users has been a long and less than ideal path.


  1. Ticketmaster May Not Be What Arthur C. Clarke Had In Mind? « FULL HOUSES: Turning Data into Audiences - Tue, Apr 17, 2012

    […] post and question raised by Drew McManus in is blog Adaptistration. In this interview from the ABC in 1974, Arthur C. Clarke was certainly prescient, albeit an […]

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