Saturday, 11 August 2012

Alien Concepts

It feels like we're in a unique point in history and it's both intriguing and a little bit melancholy.

We've watched huge leaps in technological advancement being built on the achievements of the previous generations, each leap a little closer in time to the last and yet taking us further in concept each time.

This means that we're a generation more used to large changes to our lifestyle and our ways of thinking.

We've seen more of the elements of our science fiction favourites being brought into everyday life and have a better ability to predict what may be possible and to strive for what is on the edge of that possibility.

And all this means that we are able to look at our lives and experiences and predict what things are going to fall by the wayside and how quickly.

I might be incorrect but I get the feeling that even though our parents and grandparents knew that change was inevitable they still were taken a bit by surprise when things that they'd grown up with or used their entire adult lives were rendered completely obsolete within a matter of months or a year by a new development.

I know even for people my age it was a bit startling at first watching VHS getting superseded by DVD (with a brief bit of competition from HD DVD format), but as DVD is nudged in the back by Blu-Ray there's more of a 'ho hum, another one bites the dust' feeling.

Even as something new comes out now we know that it has a finite lifespan and that the new thing will be not far behind.
Whether the new thing will last or not is unknown but we know it's coming.


So in honour of that, here is a brief list of little memories that the next generation won't get to experience.

  • Doing Presentations Using Overhead Projectors. I don't know about you but I used to love doing these. When you were younger you were set loose with some special textas that wrong on the plastic projector sheets and had to very carefully try to write or draw as much of your presentation as possible onto your sheet so that you didn't look like that one weenie whose last sentence had to turn sideways down the side of the page.
    In university I got to have one last play with an overhead projector and printed a colour photocopy of an Italian Renaissance painting onto a sheet of clear plastic for an Italian Art and History class presentation. I spent an embarrassing amount of time holding it up to the light and just gazing through it from either side. It was like having my own very detailed stained glass window.
Overhead Projectors: They Are Cool
  • Get To Play With Cassette Tapes And All The Fiddling That Entailed. I mean really, think about all the experiences associated with cassettes.
    -Rewinding them and listening to that clunky 'click!' as they got to the end of the tape.
    -Winding them up with a pencil when they unspooled or if you were fiddling around.
    -Learning to listen to that moment of emptiness that signalled that it had got past the blank bit of tape at the start and you should start recording from this point onwards so that you didn't cut the start off your favourite songs.
    -Physically turning a cassette over unless you had a 'fancy' deck/walkman that did it for you.

    (I know these all sound like the things that old people go on about much to their grandchildren's chagrin but this is the point! We're getting to the nostalgia part of life about 30 or 40 years ahead of schedule!)
  • Going To The Video Store To Rent Movies. If video stores last another 5 to 10 years I will actually be a bit surprised. What with downloadable movie/TV series rental services already up and running, purchasing your own movies and so forth cheaper than it used to be and the high incidence of movie piracy that goes on amongst the social bracket that used to do all the renting because they couldn't afford to buy*, the profit margins must be getting pretty slim these days.
    But not having that experience of being given a time limit for picking movies, a SET number of movies that was NOT up for negotiation due to the deals the store was offering, and all the bargaining and arguing that went on with your siblings... Well where is the drama and the excitement with doing that from home?
    If you're sitting in front of the family computer with your Mum saying 'I'm only clicking one more item, which one is it going to be?', where's the fun in that?
  • Being Excited About Songs On The Radio. You can still get excited about your favourite songs coming on the radio but now that you can just go straight to Youtube or another online service and listen to any song you like on demand at any time, it just isn't the same thing.
    Waiting by your radio with your finger hovering over the record button to catch a song on cassette helped you develop lightning fast reflexes.

There are tonnes of other examples but these are the ones that have popped into my head which I felt met the criteria without straying too far into 'They won't remember telephones with cords' which is a different kind of deal.

It makes you wonder whether as we become more used to change going into the future whether our growing adaptability will be our biggest asset or whether it will lead us to be so flighty in our attentions and loyalties that we're going to shoot ourselves in the foot as a species.

I guess we'll see.

*This is definitely a big generalisation but the more bogan-y a person is the more likely it is that they're pirating movies.

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