Much like Television is a one-way mirror and Radio is a dark field where you recline and listen to words spoken in the distance. With television, you can see the actors, but they can't see you. With radio, you can hear the actors, but can see nothing.
Skype has finally brought us the mass video phone so that we can all see and speak to each other whenever it pleases. You can hear and see through the glass, but you cannot touch or smell. It is a partial presence. As Carl Jung might say, each person sitting by himself in a little box looking and talking to each other.
No one has really tried to engage all of the senses. Perhaps because it was not first imagined in the last creative burst before the final rigid days of the Occident. After all, the future always casts a shadow on the present. There are always tells for those who can sense them. And as I look around here at the dawn of the 21st century Anno Domini, I don't see a future. Or rather, I see a future that is the same as the present. The same pattern over and over. Nothing new, just shopworn secondhand ideas.
Where is the speculative fiction? I look around and I see nothing new. Merely echos of Jules Verne. And, as I remind you, that was in the 19th century more than 100 years ago. Before the suicide of the nation states of Europe in World War I. Where is the future? I see only cultural exhaustion as it always reveals itself, in cultural repetition.
I suspect that the Internet will be the crowning final physical technological achievement of the West. I don't see any others on the horizon, and we would certainly know by now. There would be something that we could hear in the distance. But there is nothing but echos of the imagined future from the past.
What remains of the final technological development of the west is already prefigured in the world of biotechnology and robotic manufacture.
With respect to one of the West's crowning spiritual achievements, that of individualism, the awakening of the 1960's gave a final impulse. Strangely, and by that I mean unpredictably, that awakening threw the middle class, in particular the upper middle class, out of the pews and into empty space. This is most clearly evident in the Catholic Church in Quebec. Of the six million Catholics, only 6% attend weekly mass.
The next awakening of the west will happen in two turns of the generations from now. We will know in 30 to 40 years where we are going to go next.