Conquent: Without Limits
Conquent: Without Limits
Michael Bissell's Blog

The Death of... Well, everything...

2011-02-01 10:26:47
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After writing The Death of Email, I'm thinking I should just start a series called "The death of..." After all, with the rate of change in the world, and not just technology, it seems like I'm always finding some gadget, process, person, or idea that has been rendered completely irrelevant.

For example, John asked his techie friends (a list I'm apparently on) about a tablet PC today. Here's his wish list:

One that has at least one USB port and a CD/DVD drive. One that has at least a few gigs of RAM. One with a modern Intel board (i5, i5 etc). One with a at least 1/2 a Tera bite memory (hard drive - solid state etc). The ipad is cute, but without these features I can't use it.
In my time, (visualize the weathered porch as I tip my rocker back and gently gum a stalk of some grass as I push my straw hat back)... In my time, I've seen the USB port render serial (9 pin and 25 pin), keyboard, mouse, parallel and SCSI ports all irrelevant. I won't put the old edge connectors into this realm as they weren't really part of the mainstream PC world, but there were things like firewire and proprietary cards for ZIP drives at one time that all died quietly in a neglected corner of my basement.

Storage media keep rising and dying faster than we even realize. Not to bore you with RLL, MFM, IDE, SATA, and all the other acronyms for hard drive controllers (whoops, too late), but think about John's request for 500 GB hard drive. He's even using the word Terabyte, if only looking for half of one (a Terabyte being the next big number above a Gigabyte). The days of measuring things in Megabytes or Kilobytes are so far gone it ages me to even talk about them, so let's not even think about floppy drives.

And then there's optical media -- CDs and DVDs are disappearing like the unmentionable 3 1/2" floppies. I almost never use optical media anymore. I watch movies on Netflix and install software over the Internet... Heck, when we got that new system for Purnima in the office, she installed Adobe CS over the Internet, and it installed amazingly fast for one of the biggest programs out there.

But some things never seem to die. I just noticed an image file with a created date stamp of 2000-06-19 the other day -- if that image was a person, it would be heading into 6th grade... And what's more interesting is that the recordings of 100 years ago are being converted to digital formats and are suddenly alive again, even though no one has a 78rpm record player or a phonogram that plays wax cylinders.

Everything changes, everything dies, but not everything is lost. To the contrary, as things keep changing, we keep finding more knowledge, art, and ideas. It's not dead, it's just moving really fast.

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Jane Blue: Re: The Death of... Well, everything...
2011-02-01 10:42:40

People do have 78 RPM record players. We have one, although I don't think it's functioning at the moment.

Michael Bissell: Re: The Death of... Well, everything...
2011-02-01 10:43:06

If it doesn't work, it doesn't really count. I have plenty of computers in my basement that have all the tech I talked about, but do I, or can I use them? Nope...

Matthew Thiel: Re: The Death of... Well, everything...
2011-02-01 18:51:13

If it weren't for a lack of space, I'd probably still have much of the mentioned ancient technologies around. Thanks for making me feel a bit older than I did yesterday.

I try to keep the inevitable replacement of technology in mind now when I decide to integrate something new into my life. Cost is an obvious factor, but that's easy as long as you're honest with yourself about how often you're going to replace things. Media though, like the music on 78s, documents on floppy discs, movies on DVDs, and even software on whatever is a huge concern for anyone thinking a decade or more into the future. My best solution, so far, is to keep migrating things to hard drives and then duplicating them to newer drives every few years. I suppose that may eventually give way to storing everything in the "cloud," but I can't imagine myself not keeping a local backup anyway.

Kyra Weaver: Re: The Death of... Well, everything...
2011-02-11 01:23:29

Media will constantly change, but information (art included )and ideas carried on them are easier to instantly grok - so especially interesting, original information stays relevent through the centuries., I think our basic emotional mockup will keep the same issues relevent for millennia. ;)

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