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Seen The iHorse? Technology And Progress Meet

Hey, did you happen to catch the new mobile phone at the CES? You know — the one built specifically for use on horseback? No? Oh, my bad —- that was just something I saw on late-night TV recently.

But even after I took this screengrab, I could not stop laughing.

Sounding A Bit Horse: A police officer talks on a mobile phone, conveniently stored in a saddlebag. This TV Network hide caption

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Sounding A Bit Horse: A police officer talks on a mobile phone, conveniently stored in a saddlebag.

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The best thing is how this piece of technology was treated in the movie — the guys he was calling were like, OF COURSE he's calling us from a phone tucked into a saddlebag. And as you can see, the horse is utterly nonchalant, though maybe a bit embarrassed at the fuss that old coot is making back there.

Isn't it cool how quickly people treat gadgets like they've always been around? It only takes a few minutes for a device to go from being all new-fangled and alien to being just another thing you throw in your pocket, where it can get scratched up by your keys.

I think that's what makes steampunk — the fascination with quirky gizmos that are equal parts futuristic and antique — so interesting.

To me, steampunk works off two basic ideas: first, the technology we often think of as being new really isn't; and second, that even next-generation gadgets can refer to an idyllic past.

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The steampunk aesthetic has been around for a while — think of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, or the old TV show (and bad movie) Wild, Wild West.
I can tell you that I have no steampunk cred — I was not in Tom Petty's video for "You Got Lucky", and I haven't even seen The Prestige.

But, if I happen to be up late one night and see those schoolkids on Little House on the Prairie sitting at their desks in the 1870s, writing on slates that look suspiciously like every Apple Tablet design I've seen on the Web, I just might have to smirk a little bit about that.