Woody Allen said that tradition is the illusion of permanence. He may have been talking more about religion and kilts, but I think his comments apply well to our need to sometimes protect those things being improved upon (or cast aside) by technology innovations.
Case in point, I received one of those family-spams last week that listed the sad state of the world, as it related to technology taking things like our beloved TV and landline phones away.
I wanted to take a moment to break this family-spam down and turn, if you will, that frown upside down.
The Post Office
First, outside of getting passports and buying collector stamps immortalizing the Apollo Space Program, I don’t find myself visiting the post office too often these days. And with grandma texting; everyone (and their mother) on Facebook; and the proliferation of e-card companies, I don’t see society returning to snail mail greetings anytime soon. But on a serious note, how can we demonize the financial industry for its lack of fiscal responsibility while continuing to allow our tax dollars to be fed into a dead business model?
The Check (or Cheque)
So, the UK is planning to make physical “cheques” obsolete by 2018. Are we next! Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I wrote a check. These days I am all about the Debit Card. If I did write a check it would be because I didn’t have money in my account and was simply trying to buy a couple of days till payday. So, I guess what I am saying is, save the trees!
One of the arguments here is that younger people just don’t read the newspaper these days. When I was young I read comic books and other things I hid under my bed. When I was in college, I read schoolbooks and journals. These days, I get various RSS feeds to stay in the loop on the things I care about. To that point, the word “News” comes from the word “New.” At 2pm there is very little that is new in a paper printed that morning. By the way, save the trees!
Just use some positive feedback and say to yourself over and over, “I lived through the transition from the LP Record to the CD. I lived through the transition from VHS to DVD. I survived the loss of the iOmega ZIP drive and have come to embrace the joys of USB dongles. I can survive this!” If that doesn’t work, the good news is that bookstores aren’t going away tomorrow. You still have time to enjoy the sweet smell of paper and dead trees!
Seriously. Is anyone really waxing nostalgic about landline phones? Keep a corded trimline phone in your closet, and when society and our electricity fail, you can plug it in and get 911 for free. But if that happens, you better also have a more relevant trade skill ready such as metalworking or midwifery.
The Great Music Industry Corporation
If a lone guitar player struck a power cord in the forest would anyone hear? Producers have been pushing packaged music talent out to consumers since the dawn of the gramophone disc. The reason? The industry is filled with people “that just want to make art, man” so there is an inherit need for people that understand and expect to be paid for the business side of things. To make more money calls for more promotion (or exploitation). The digital world may make this more complicated for marketers, but it’s a hell of a lot less expensive and more immediate than pressing DVDs. Besides, if this really bothers you, you don’t need to buy it. And there is a lot of new music waiting to be discovered on any number of college, independent and Internet radio stations (support www.radioparadise.com!). Unfortunately, since everything is digital either way, none of this will save trees.
TV as we know it is dying. And that’s a good thing! Terrestrial TV is still free (for those that can get in a good DTV signal), but that isn’t helpful if trying to access all that great, original programming produced on HBO, Showtime, FX, etc. To get these channels today, you need to pay for dozens of channels you don’t want. Here is the good news. If you don’t want to pay for cable, satellite or FiOS, and have a little patience, then you can legally get access to great content via iTunes, Netflix and a number of online portals. This may not satisfy your need for MTV’s Jersey Shore or live sports, but you can always stop spending $4.05 per day at Starbucks to help pay the $50 for basic cable!
Innovation is an amoral and pragmatic force. It’s both sad and wonderful depending on where your standing. Yesterday, scribes lost their jobs to the printing press. Today, printing press operators worry about the impact of eBooks.
j'aime Le Jersey Shore
And tomorrow…we’ll see!
The one silver lining I just discovered while editing this blog, is that you can watch full episodes of Jersey Shore for free on MTV.com. But you can also use parental controls to block the site — if that’s how you roll!