Antiques and Computers - Part III
We have arrived at the beginning of a new era where linkages of sophisticated affordable computers can now store, organize and quickly disperse much of the accumulated knowledge of mankind. A growing web of equally impressive technology, digital communications, will spread this information globally. In the not-to-distant future, your television, radio, stereo, phone, and computer will probably be replaced by some type of integrated system. Easy to use entertainment, shopping, education services, and low-cost individual and group communication access will be available to most Americans within the next five years and most countries within the next ten.
Large auctions will be broadcast on interactive TV, as well as shop inventories, and antiques on display a prominent shows. While you may not be able to physically touch and smell a satinwood inlaid tea caddy being offered in London, you will be able to view it in detail by instructing your monitor to slow down and zoom-in. Once the object is highlighted you will have access to the seller's price and other pertinent information she offers by merely clicking a switch, or, if you can afford a voice recognition unit, asking for it.
For more information you may switch to education access. Now your computer will take on the role of historian and appraiser. You might ask your computer to compare the tea caddy in London with others that have sold in the last ten years. Is it a good value? Who is the seller and do they have an honest reputation? You might inquire as to the antique's historical relevance. Approximately what year and where was it made? Is it in the style of a documented tea caddy maker who signed or labeled his work? Did Antique Talk ever feature tea caddies in a column?
If all seems promising, you will be able to make your over-sea purchase a by merely typing in a bid. Funds will be transferred from your account to the seller's instantaneously.
What I'm getting at is don't throw away your old mechanical Timex watch or boxed Etch-a-Sketch toy or vacuum tube radio if they're in good condition and you have adequate storage. One day, some kid in New Delhi, India interested in 20th century Western technology might want to bid on them.
Another point is education and the common person's access to scientific and historical information is going to change. If you're interested in old clocks and how they work, you'll be able to enter your computer, turn yourself into a flea, and hop around inside the works of any one of a variety of antique timepieces that have had detailed photos and design charts scanned-in to an accessible data bank. By causing the pendulum to swing the clock now becomes a fun-house of moving gears. What an interesting way for young and old people to learn about clocks, mechanics, and hand-craftsmanship.
Today, more than ever, it is imperative that we preserve and document those things we still know about yesterday. Wouldn't you rather read what George Washington actually said about African Americans than some historian's perspective? An authentic Civil War uniform might provide some insight as to the man who wore it in battle. A rare manual might help us understand more about the first electric toasters and the people who invented them. A signed 18th century chair with distinctive carving might help us attach a maker's name to a dozen unsigned ones like. A fake Van Gogh might help us discern other fakes.
Emerging technology is going to bring what we collectively document about our past into the future. Old tools will sharpen young minds. Forgotten artists will dance again. Thanks to computers and the internet, antiques will garner more interest than ever.