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Editor's Note

By Tom Shroder
Sunday, April 27, 2008

REALITIES OF 2008 that I never could have imagined in 1991:

· I would have a car that ran partially on battery power and got 45 miles per gallon -- but I would have to spend $35 to fill the tank.

· The Internet, the exclusive province of geeks and about as useful as one of those "drinking bird" desk ornaments, would transform into something out of "Star Trek," where you could simply go online, type "What are bowling balls made of?" into the search slot, and an answer would instantly appear.

· E-mail messaging, which barely existed, would already be considered archaic, and typing text on tiny wireless devices using only thumbs would be the preferred method of communication.

· We would be in the middle of a war that had already lasted longer than World War II, with no end in sight.

· A woman and a black man would be duking it out for the Democratic presidential nomination.

· The sitting president would have entered office only after the intervention of the Supreme Court.

· I could watch, for free, a video of a live performance by any of my favorite groups on something called YouTube.

· My TV would have twice the screen size and double the picture quality, be as thin and light as a dinner plate and cost no more than the 300-pound monster I had in '91.

· I could carry my entire music collection in my shirt pocket.

· Security agents would inspect my shoes for bombs before I was allowed to board a plane.

· The theory that global warming could melt the ice caps would no longer be just a theory.

· The most popular show on TV would be an amateur singing competition.

· The Boston Red Sox would have won the World Series. Twice.

· China would be better known for business suits than Mao suits.

· A loudmouth, showoff, egotistical, tennis burnout case named Andre Agassi would become a durable, thoughtful, philanthropic, beloved elder statesman of the game.

· My infant son, who could barely hold his head up, would be bench-pressing 205 pounds.

All of the above would have seemed like over-the-top science fiction to me 17 years ago. So what are the next 17 years going to bring? Metro section columnist Marc Fisher took on this impossible assignment with his usual flare and imagination. From his initial research, he created two scenarios of Washington life in 2025, which he then sent out to specialists in fields ranging from urban development to terrorism to consumerism. The experts' reaction to Marc's predictions, and the discussions that ensued, helped us reshape the scenarios into what you see beginning on Page 10.

Tom Shroder can be reached at shrodert@washpost.com.

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