Imagination & the distribution of development

A popular idea is that ‘Japan is from the future’ — that technology there as a whole is more advanced. This is probably the inspiration for the much-overused Gibson quote “the future is here, but it is not fully distributed”. In reality, Japan has what TVTropes would call ‘schizo tech’: affordable personal robots are available and toilets have bidets and mp3 players, but offices still use fax machines instead of email and documents get distributed on paper by couriers.

Schizo tech is truth in television: every culture’s advancement levels look…