Back in the late seventies I lived in the assured belief that even the most dynamic starship crew were hamstrung without their all knowing talking computer. This electronic oracle was then characterised either by panel of lights that flashed to the tones of its soothing and patrician electronic vox, or (if the production budget were low on that tv series) a mysterious monotone voice which emanated from some vague space overhead - the crew addressed it by looking vaguely overhead as they voiced their queries.
But whatever the mode, the talking computer had the right answer or solution to save the crew and ship from each and every crisis. Orac from Blake's Seven or Holly from Red Dwarf kept them on the straight and narrow while Hal from 2001 showed what happened if you ticked them off with too many stupid questions.
|The crew from Space 1999 listens intently to the computer's fashion instructions (flares did return about 1999)|
While you might have to key in your queries via keyboard rather than spout them out to to him while peering above into a vague space overhead, the great Dr Interweb clearly is the obvious manifestation of sci-fi's talking computer - with Captain Youtube as his trusty ally.
|Skypeing the wife in the retrofuture|
|Science fiction wrong: Robots still can't serve up the dinner|
(OK.... now if I sound way too impressed by all this, it's because when I started working I had a typewriter to write on and a phone with a dial that required the butt end of a pencil to make a phone call and a few seconds of patience after number to wait for the dial to roll back again.)
|Science fiction right: Lawnbott|
|Stephen Hayes, the apple tree sage of Youtube|
Who better than the Don and his infectious enthusiasm, to escort us through the city’s organiponicos, the raised bed urban allotments which now feed well over a million people in a miracle which will surely impact on the rest of the world as we approach peak oil.
|Monty Don takes us around the world of food growing on Youtube|
|John Evans, his wife and a giant courgette|
|The late great Frank Cook - still imparting his good vibes on Youtube|
Sadly Cook passed away in 2009 although I only found out today.
I have to confess to having felt the sort of twinge of sadness that accompanies the passing of someone you've actually met. This says something not only about Frank's obvious charisma but also the intimate nature of Youtube through which you sometimes feel you almost know those tutors you encounter there. Another great quality of Youtube and the internet overall is it's ability to store that sort of personality and knowledge for years to come. Frank may have passed on years ago but today in cyberspace he's still alive and teaching.
|Perfect allotments on Youtube make me jealous|
Amateurs like Cassandra and George who have no axe to grind or nothing to sell us will become even more important to us knowledge seekers in the years ahead as the better known names in gardening exercise copyright and remove their contributions and clips from Youtube just as so many music stars and tv stations are now starting to do with copyrighted work.
|"Just keep talking like you were just there..." no fogies, no fuss just a phone|