A Small Worldview, Exposed

Dustbury linked to another one of those technology articles written in the hip, modern style that indicates an arch with-it fellow shaking his head at the backwardness of others.

The piece is entitled 12 obsolete technologies Americans still use. Mostly, it’s about the author of the piece ticking off items that he does not use any more. Hence, they are obsolete to him. They include:

  • Dial-up Internet
    In the rural areas of the country, which is most of the country but very little of the country where technology writers live, you have two choices, and it’s not fiber or copper or DSL or cable. You get to choose between dial-up, which is slow but inexpensive, and satellite, which is more expensive, slightly faster, and sometimes spotty. So, yes, many people still use it. Because it makes sense, and it probably suits their needs.
    Yes, I know, cellular offers a more technically challenging and sometime viable solution, but it’s not available in all areas either. Have you ever seen the little marker on your smart phone that says data is unavailable in an area? I have.
     
  • Dot matrix printers
    The author himself mentions multi-part forms, and that’s a no-brainer for me. The author must not have worked in an environment where this makes sense.
     
  • Landline phones
    It might make some fiscal sense for me to give up our residential landline phone, but the telephone works when the power goes out, brothers and sisters. In the event of a disaster, it might be your link to the world when your Internet and your cell phone chargers are unavailable. I’ll cling to it until such time as the phone company takes it away from me.
     
  • VHS and cassette tapes
    The author talks about the cloud and downloading music, but I’ve had enough hard drive failures and have seen enough services shuttered that I wouldn’t trust the Internet with my data anyhow. Besides, you can rip them to bits if you must, and you’ll find them very cheap at garage sales. So instead of ‘renting’ a movie for $2.99 or downloading a whole song for a buck, you can find whole albums for a quarter and movies you can watch over and over for a buck.
     
  • CRT TVs
    Confession: I just removed our last television with a picture tube. Not because it was not working, but because we dropped a dish box and now it was more important to hook in a DVD player and VCR (to play obsolete VHS tapes!). Also, I had an extra television I’d used as a computer monitor for a while. Otherwise, I would still have it. You know why? It still worked.

    If you hit any number of yard sales or thrift stores, you’ll find any number of old console televisions from the 1960s, complete with picture tubes, flickering some broadcast television. And you know what? They still work. Compare that to the longevity of other types of televisions. No contest, hey?
     

Oh, I could go on, but it frankly boils down to this: The ‘obsolete’ things still work. Vinyl records, cassettes, televisions, fax machines, the whole lot of them still fulfill a function and still work, so yes, people will still use them.

It’s easy to have the disposable attitude, I reckon, if you’re young and have not accumulated a number of things that work (which might never happen to today’s young, I reckon. Wait, instead of repeating ‘I reckon,’ I mean ‘by crackey.’). Or if you’re someone who trades in a phone every two years or a car every three. It’s a new mindset, one that most people outside the tech industry don’t share.

5 thoughts on “A Small Worldview, Exposed

  1. Perhaps there should be a term for technologies and products that have been surpassed, yet remain functional and usable.

    Consider Jonathan Klinger, a young man who recently spent an entire year driving a 1930 Ford Model A as his only vehicle (http://www.365daysofa.com/). Surely most would consider an 83 year old automobile as obsolete technology, yet he was able to commute and travel, even in demanding Michigan and Midwestern weather.

  2. I watch videocassettes all the time. They’re frightfully inexpensive at sales and whatnot, and I’m not so addicted to picture clarity that it bothers me at all.

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