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Age of X

What time is it?

I'd like to get some warning from the historians about this moment. Is this an Age of Capitalist Expansion? Or a Golden Era, a new enlightenment. Or is it the beginning of a new dark ages? The rise, or fall of empire? Just the name, and I'd know how to act.

If it's an age of empire, we should pay particular attention to our Caesars; our memorial will be their stories, like it was for the Romans. If this is a dark age, I should be working to preserve what mattered of the past. And if I'm standing in the middle of an enlightenment, I'd write poems about science.

The conventional wisdom is that we live in the beginning of the Information Age. But maybe it's not the beginning after all—maybe some unexpected technology is about to appear, and we're on the cusp of the nanotechnology era, or the enhanced brain age. Or it could be that personal anti-gravity jetpacks are going to change everything.

At least by living in the Millennium we have a hook. Simply by being here, we've found a place in history. Film, music, and software—all of it will be millennial, and honored for its primitive energy, or condemned for its ignorance. But our proximity to a year with three zeroes guarantees we won't be forgotten. At least until they change the calendar.

Still, it's a shame to have to wait until time has folded up and everything living today is dead and composted to know when you're living. Some historian already has the answer to my question, but she just hasn't been born yet. I would like to grab her non-existent arm and look into her post-millennial eyes and ask her the earth's most common question: what time is it?


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

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