Not sure how many of you face this problem. As most of my works are set in the "present day", I run into this dilemma every now and again. How pervasive and what level of technology should I have in a work set in the "present day"? Especially in a work that will likely not see the light of day for another couple years. In which case, I should ideally try to take that into account.
For the most part, I try to work around it by being non-specific. Cars will almost always be described my either their type, colour, or other physical descriptor, or they will be mentioned by manufacturer/make. This, I feel, is fairly safe as cars and the place cars have in our way of life seems fairly stable.
The area where I really worry most with are with respect to mobile/cell phones. Would the characters be using regular phones or smartphones? Who should have phones? The former question is important in that it determines what information a character would have at his/her fingertips - i.e. s/he should be able to know/find out about a piece of information rather than him/her not know and being unable to do anything about it.
The latter really comes into play with young characters. As the years go by, it's becoming more and more expected that kids own phones so that they are always contactable. Likewise, the wide variety and falling prices of basic phones mean that even fairly poor people will likely have a phone of some sort; as it becomes more an item of necessity/work rather than a luxury item.
A third dilemma is regarding smartphones and how it firmly establishes when the story takes place (as opposed to a vague "present day"). Smartphones are constantly improving, increasing in functionality (especially through apps), and becoming more common. As such, the presence/absence of smartphones being specifically described and used, as well as how they are used could quickly make a work dated.
Anyone have any thoughts on the subject? And anyone have any advice specifically with respect to the use of smartphones?
edited 20th Apr '13 7:00:20 PM by peasant