A historian from 2100 (the middle of the Sino-American era) look backs on 2004.
1. 2004 was the middle of what historians know as the American era. President George W Bush was re-elected and like many leaders of the dominant force in a given moment of history, he will isolate America at the same time as seeking to extend its influence
2. 2004 was right at the start of internet policing. Penalties for spamming, and malicious spyware which in 2100 are often life sentences were only just being enforced and regarded as serious crime in 2004. In the hundred years to follow the anti-malignant internet wreckers would very nearly crash the net and threaten its usefulness. But schism within the anti-internet forces would lead to their losing the war.
3. Historians have yet to understand why Saddam Hussein was seen so little of, after his capture. Many assume that he had nothing useful to say about weapons of mass destruction. Historians marvel at 2004's obsession with WMD and reflect that ‘disinformation’ by all sides was the currency of the era.
4. 2004 is recognised as the start of the realisation that drugs were incredibly prevalent in sport. In 2100 all sporting events are divided into drug-free and drugs-assisted.
5. 2004 is seen by many as a period of curiosity and experiment in the West. Many great cultural achievements were only unearthed much later as they were swamped by the ‘noise’ of the times. 2004 was the era that culture became less a matter of music and art and other traditional forms, but more focussed on newer genres: fashion, tattoos etc
6. 2004 was the era of the rise of gambling particularly from the home, with huge gains in traffic from online casinos and gambling sites. In 2100 gambling is incredibly prevalent, to the extent that are celebrity 'netcasts' where you can watch the world’s top leaders playing poker online.
7. 2004 is seen as the era that Americans started to become aware of the importance of Spanish as a language. Rather like the French in the 20th century banning ‘Franglais’ the Americans over the next couple of decades will take steps to prevent the use of Spanish words and phrases in the media. It will be a losing battle.
8. 2004 was the middle of the 'age-extension' era. Many decades later the Chinese will persuade the Americans that all people above the age of 110 should automatically be killed by the state. It is a very popular policy as future generations resent the resources being spent on the aged. They have taken over from the immigrants as a focus of irrational hatred. The old people will fight back and even in 2100 geriatric renegades exist but their plight is a hopeless one
9. 2004 is regarded as one of the key years of the cult of the ‘celebrity’. Obsession with A, B, and C list celebrities was at its height. In 2100 media attention is focussed on those who are felt to contribute most to society.
10. 2004 heralded the starting point of the death of academia and many middle-class professions. In 2100 with its more utilitarian and in some ways more Chinese perspective, brawn is valued much higher. Top academics are still be respected but no cachet is attached to the level of gaining a degree in any arts subject. The sciences, of course, are much higher valued.