Liana Naidu conducts an interesting experiment in the hopes of predicting the future from the point of writing, to the release of this issue!
I am absolutely fascinated by the period of time between the writing and publication of Grapeshot issues. So, today I shall attempt to bridge this gap by predicting what might be going on in the world as you read these words. In other words, I am predicting your present.
As I finish writing this I am sitting at my desk at home on the 14th of April 2023, but if you are reading this immediately after publication, it is probably early June. Because it is difficult to know exactly when Issue 3 will launch, let’s assume for the sake of simplicity that TICK TOCK comes out on the 12th of June. What will have changed between those times?
In conducting this experiment, I am drawing inspiration from two YouTube videos, in which John Green predicts the eight days into the future, and his brother Hank responds by evaluating the accuracy of his predictions.12 Using these videos as a framework, I will attempt to make my own predictions for what the world might look like on the 12th of June.
Let's begin with a seemingly simple prediction: On June 12th, I predict that it will be a cool day in Macquarie Park, with a low of approximately 10oC and a high of 18oC. Because it’s June, I also expect that it will be raining.
While these predictions could certainly be wrong, the substantial data available for analysis makes it simpler for me to make these statements with confidence. In fact, some people literally predict the future for a living, such as meteorologists, statisticians and epidemiologists. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I was reminded that while experts do make mistakes, their assessments will be more accurate than mine, so I will gladly consult the professionals and rely on their estimations when I can.
You are probably in the middle of your exam period at the moment, and so I think it’s fairly reasonable to predict that there will be a noticeable spike in caffeine consumption among students, and a noticeable decrease in sleep. If you are reading this during exams, I wish you luck!
Next, let’s move onto situations in which I have some available data, but need to rely more on my own instincts to form predictions. For example, while you can predict the outcome of upcoming sporting matches based on data, games are likely to be impacted by unexpected conditions, making these expectations less reliable. That said, I know virtually nothing about any sporting events, so allow me to offer up my predictions for upcoming movies and music instead.
By the 12th of June, Niall Horan and Lewis Capaldi will have recently released albums. I predict that they will both be doing very well commercially, with people beginning to get sick of the singles, while fans prefer lesser-known favourites. At this point, Ed Sheeran’s album will have been out for about a month, so I suspect it will be receiving frequent airplay. I’m going to take a wild guess and say that tracks four and twelve will prove surprisingly popular.
Additionally, the movies One Fine Morning, Strays and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry will be showing in theatres. I suspect that Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse will draw large audiences to the theatre, and that excitement for Barbie will be steadily increasing in anticipation of its release in July.
I can also gauge what the potential headlines of your present might include. For example, any budding musical theatre enthusiast will have been eagerly anticipating the Tony Awards, which are scheduled for the 11th of June. I am sure that on the 12th of June, people will be busy unpacking the opening number and discussing which productions they feel were robbed.
On a more serious note, in your present, National Reconciliation Week will have occurred a fortnight ago with the referendum on the Indigenous Voice to Parliament scheduled for a few months away. I expect that the nation will be heavily focused on the details surrounding that legislation. And I suspect that, as with most important topics, the discourse surrounding it will at times be hostile, with increasingly divisive opinions receiving the greatest attention.
Hopefully I am, at least a little, wrong about that prediction.
One of the things that prompted me to write this article was the difference between the news stories appearing in Grapeshot as you read it, and the stories in the media at the same time. And for all I know, you could be reading this article years into the future. Our news team does an incredible job at capturing the important events of a particular moment of time, but the national and global news cycles move so quickly that recent news stories often feel like they occurred in the distant past. In my present, this morning’s headlines included estimations of the damage expected from Tropical Cyclone Ilsa, and the articles published here in TICK TOCK cover Donald Trump’s indictment and the Australian government’s ban of TikTok, but from your perspective, those events probably feel significantly detached from your present.
Finally, here are a few general predictions that I can be highly confident in, simply because they are usually applicable. I predict that in your present the effects of climate change are being felt around the world and that while some effort is being made to reduce our impact on the environment, more change is required to create meaningful difference.
There are countless topics for which I could make similar statements. It is tempting to take any frightening topic or global issue, and present its current state as inevitable, falling into a cycle of pessimism.
In his video, Green summarises this by predicting that in eight days “we will feel like there is cause for alarm, and… there will be cause for alarm.”1 While I believe that statement will hold true for the time in which you are reading this, I also believe that replacing the word “alarm” with “hope” would form an equally true statement. Although these disheartening predictions about complex problems seem perpetually correct, change does occur over time. These predictions don’t need to remain true forever.
So, what can we learn from this exercise?
Personally, it has become abundantly clear that despite being concerned with the future, my predictions are in fact a reflection of my present. The events unfolding around me inform my understanding of what will be relevant to the future, as do my own personal biases. If someone else were to complete this exercise with me, we would have produced dramatically different results.
We can also learn to better appreciate the way that news stories fit into our understanding of the world. Advances in technology have enabled us to rapidly share immense quantities of information across the world, resulting in fast-paced news cycles. I’m sure I will have forgotten most of this morning’s headlines by the time this article is published. The amount of history being made every day is overwhelming.
Whether you are reading this article on the 12th of June, or at another time, this exercise was less an attempt to see how accurately I can predict the future, and more a prompt for you, my future reader, to reflect on the ways in which you imagine the past, present and future.