We sort of took him for granted in Sri Lanka, his adopted home. At the Otters sports club we frequented, Arthur Clarke was quite a household name.
In 2005, the business magazine (LMD) for which I wrote a technology column, asked me to cover Clarke. I would have liked to have conducted an interview via web cam, if not a Q&A online on a wiki, but the father of the communications satellite made it known that he was past doing interviews. I wrote it anyway, titling the article “From Sarongs to Satellites.”
So this week, as the news broke that the sci-fi writer and keen observer of what could be possible had passed on, I wanted to look back and see how I had deciphered the man.
I loved his observation way back before CNN or mobile phones, that satellites would tilt the balance of cultural and political ideas. Anticipating the ‘world is flat theory’ theory by decades, long before networking became an aggressive pass time, Clarke foresaw a hyper-connected global family. He thought the Communications Satellite would be the enabler of what he termed “The United Nations of Earth.”
And the quote I loved most was this: “Swords into plowshares is an obsolete metaphor; we can now turn missiles into blackboards.”