Swiss Army Knives, Zip-Locks and iPhones

Readers have asked about the items Josh takes with him to convince Thomas and James that he’s from the 21st C.

Why these three items?

To begin with, why not a DVD player or 3D, or even better a Virtual Reality experience? Josh wants to ease them into Future Shock, not convulse them. The first known photographically recorded image appears to date to 1816, when Nicéphore Niépce combined the camera obscura with photosensitive paper.

It’s a safe bet that our friends have only seen life-like images like these on paintings, and their paintings didn’t come to life. Josh reasons that a movie would instantly be dismissed as an illusion – literally beyond belief. And then, too the sea’s salty, water-borne air shortens the life span of electronic devices considerably. Thomas and James would be impressed by an inert DVD’s appearance and manufacture, but they would not leap to their feet if it didn’t light up its screen because something had corroded.

Josh decides that his first item must be something which is guaranteed to work without a flaw. To reduce Future Shock, it should be something they recognize instantly, but be astonished at what’s its become. He chooses a Swiss Army Knife. They will recognize each tool on it for what it is and understand what it does. He can demonstrate them quickly, give Thomas and James the knives, and let them explore their functions without need for further instruction.

Now they’re ready for something they have never seen. While Zip-Lock bags seem low-tech to us, the concept of a disposable bag, let alone one made of clear plastic, was new. 19th C shoppers carried their goods home in the cotton-bags or baskets they brought with them. To Thomas and James, the idea of a storekeeper giving you a bag for free which you took home and thew away would be viewed as nuts. It is, of course, but that’s a whole different story. Our friends would likely be puzzled by Josh telling them this bag is made of plastic, as it looks nothing like the plastic he just called the knife’s handle, and if that’s not enough, the only transparent objects they know of are made of glass. Brittle, poor quality glass at that, which distorted light rays. Yet here was something you could crunch up and unroll, but which was so clear it was almost invisible. Our two friends would marvel how they could capture water or air, just by pressing their finger tips together.

And the iPhone? Electronic to be sure (and rest assured Josh carries more than one on board), but reliable, especially if stored in a silicon-bagged and sealed box. Much less risky than a DVD player or computer with its disks not hermetically sealed. And, being his last option in the cutter, he must have something to truly blow them away. But not too far away: Zeppelin will never do. He goes for the Haydn they know.

Before I decided that a movie would be a little over the top, I did wonder about which movies to take, of course… Aliens, Jurassic Park? Or, using the same logic which led to Haydn, a movie like Master and Commander, Far Side of the World?

Oh yes, why not the rocket launcher? Too much noise and fiery effects for Impérieuse and her crew to witness.

What would you take, and why?

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  1. […] would you take, and why? If you would like to play, please go to the note and use the comments form. By Eric Goldman | Posted in Captain’s Log | […]

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