Creative Destruction

January 7, 2011

Things Retired, Not Remembered

Filed under: Content-lite,Geekery — Brutus @ 10:00 pm

From the not-really-news department comes a report of things due to be dropped from use, never to become part of the memories of people just now being born:

  • videotape
  • travel agents
  • separation of work and home
  • books, magazines, and newspapers (and newspaper classifieds)
  • movie rental stores
  • watches
  • paper maps
  • wired phones
  • dial-up Internet service
  • encyclopedias
  • forgotten friends (and forgotten anything else)
  • the evening news on TV
  • CDs
  • cameras that use film

The list goes on, but you get the idea. I doubt pretty seriously that most of these things will go the way of the dodo or that even if they do their prior existence will fail to register on those born after their disappearance. After all, technologies from yesteryear still exist in museums, in films, and in archives that we use and enjoy today. So for instance, books, CDs, and newspapers will simply disappear? Nope. Sorry. They may rise or fall in their prevalence of use, but the sheer fact that libraries collect these media will ensure they will still exist and be useful for a long time yet to come.

Yes, technologies do come and go, but the news of the death of most of these is wildly premature and imprudent. These death notices are predicated on the availability of alternatives that serve the same or slightly updated functions, but the alternatives suffer from their own lack of permanence and vulnerability to failure. GPS is more permanent that a paper map? I doubt it. Encyclopedias will dry up and blow away? Please. They’re moving online, but they still exist. Print media are moving online, too, but the printed page is still valuable and preferred in many instances.

I’m not impressed by techno-Utopian writers who opine breathlessly about the future just over the horizon and how quaint our current technologies will soon be. As recent failures of the iPhone alarm function demonstrate, it might also be premature to embrace every new technology and abandon tried-and-true old tech.

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