Maybe it was getting up at 3am. Probably. Questionably.
When I arrived in Detroit around 8:15am I was transported to another time. It was like all of a sudden we caught up to the times predicted. Even now as I write this post - I'm riding in a bus across San Francisco using a Sonic.net WiFi Hotspot. The Ravens-Chiefs gamecast is playing along in the background. What good is mobile bandwidth if you aren't going to use it?
So, back to Detroit. A number of events and activities surrounded me and gave me thoughts of being in a Blade Runner future - but one that was clean and I could see the sky and sun.
The rebuilt A terminal is a long corridor with modern high ceiling architecture and archways to the sky. Above the corridor on the lefthand side (north? south? can you figure out the direction an airport terminal is laid out?) - above the corridor is a three stop tramway. There is a red tram than runs the length of the corridor. From my position and from seeing the shadows - it looked empty. Maybe everyone was sitting. Either way - the tram hovered and glided overhead and made hardly a sound. I had to get to my gate which was halfway between the stops - so it was better to walk. I want to get on board when I return. I want to hover above it all - the hubbub and the hullabaloo that is ETA and ETD and boarding calls.
The quiet of the tram stopped me in my tracks. Of course, I was walking on the moving walkway - so it wasn't the most disturbing thing to do in a highly trafficked public area. A lofty, roomy, red bullet whisking people away.
That wasn't the start of it - but it definitely motivated my Blade Runner induced walking dream. The start of the inducement was the tunnel between the two terminals. Some audio visual kinesthetic artists created a tunnel of light, glass, music, and the movement of a dozen moving walkways. I wished the walkway slower so I could pass through the optic nerve of the airport longer. I captured a photo and a short video to savor the time together.
The continuance of these impressions happened when I saw the map for the tramway soon after exiting the tunnel. It was laid out with a LED representation of the location of each tram. Below this was an English description and above it was a series of Japanese characters. I think in blade runner there was a prediction of a deeper connection to Asia - either in culture or in population. This was further enhanced when I was sitting in the Boeing 737-800 about to launch into my 2,084 mile journey to the west coast. The flight attendant reading the announcements had a distinct and pronounced - although completely understandable - Chinese accent. I'm not sure who she reminded me of when she was reading - though it was dreamy and comforting.
One thing about the future is that it is often fashionably a look at the past. That is - the clothing and design predicted for what is coming soon - is often from a generation or two back. The flight attendant that was second in command had a pair of maroon round lens glasses. Imagine the round lens glasses that Gandhi was known for wearing. Now instead of wire, the frame is maroon and of a semi-transparent plastic - almost glass like itself. She was in the present, dressed from a style in the past, looking at me in a way that made me think of the future. I imagined that Delta - the provider of her health and vision coverage - gave some kind of discount for employees that color coordinated their vision accessories around the corporate colors. I just taught a class in image and branding - so perhaps that is what is at top of mind for me.
While there were no sitings of building sized television screens and commercials - a la Blade Runner, I did encounter thousands of people with hundreds of varieties of mobile devices from the airport to the jet to the walk to baggage claim. Everyone was communicating in some way. No one was left behind the information age in the cross country travel segment of the population. It made me think that the digital divide overlapped a lot with the ability to explore the planet or country and perhaps even the nearer countryside. It wasn't quite the wonder of the tram or the tunnel - but what was turned out being Delta's WiFi service on the cross country flight.
Now we are in the future. When we can fly at 10,000 feet and have instant access to the net. I didn't jump on board - but plenty of people did around me. Emails, facebook, twitter, blogs, websites - all were in contact from our journey over the earth. I opted to do some reading and a bit more sleeping. I dreamed of the future and wondered if I was already there.