James Burke: I was particularly interested in the history of change and the developments that led to [change], and then I had to decide something before I began, which was, What are the shows’ ending? And in that sense, I found six endings that I thought were important in our own future. They were the development of free energy, the further development of the internet, genetics, avatars, predictive analytics and the nanofabricator.
So my trick was that I was going to go backwards to find a way of linking the future to the past. In a sense, technological change over the last 300 years didn’t matter that much unless I fell across it by accident on this trip.
The name of the game, as it always was with “Connections,” was to find links that would keep people watching because they would be unexpected or intriguing or amazing.
What I did was to start by reading and widening circles around that thing, whatever it was; let’s say it’s the internet in the future. Read backwards to find an antecedent around that and then read backwards and find an antecedent around that,each time looking for an antecedent that was likely to be surprising and, with a bit of luck, amusing and informative. And there’s a lot of it, so it was an easy way to do the job. The hardest trick was to find out when to stop.