Thoughts with Richard Bleil
Today was an odd day for technology. Because of my recent acquisition of a 3-D printer, I went to a major bookstore to look at books on the topic. I was looking for something that perhaps discusses software to develop the files to print, project ideas, things of this nature.
Before I go on, I should mention that I won’t buy “…For Dummies” or “Idiot’s Guide To…” books. They’re fine series, and are well written, but by buying those books, I feel as if I am feeding my own self-denigration. Buying these is like saying, “see? You ARE a (dummy or idiot).” There was one exception. I absolutely had to buy Sex for Dummies. It was three pages; “In”, “Out”, “Repeat”. Sorry, that’s a joke. But honestly, it truly was the pocket size edition, so I could keep it in my pants.
Anyway, this was an attempt to find a book on relatively cutting-edge technology, and sadly, they didn’t have any in store. This was really strange to me. But I did find something to buy at the bookstore, but in the line at the register was a “Mix Tape” impulse buy product. Yes, it was indeed a reference to the cassette tapes of the late ‘70’s and early ‘80’s that we would make for the young women hoping they would read between the proverbial lines when we were too bashful to express our feelings in our own words. As it turns out, they were just sponges. Yes, sponges, like for dishes and cleaning. But how odd to reference something so dramatically out of technological date. I can’t help but wonder at what age most people won’t even understand the reference.
In a separate incident, I stopped by an office supply store looking for thumb drives. Thumb drives, in and of themselves, are probably about to go out-of-date in this day of cloud-based technology. Personally, I try to avoid cloud storage and use to the best of my ability simply because the “cloud” is nothing but a large storage device controlled by some corporation. Once data (photos, videos, documents, and so forth) are uploaded, what right does that unknown corporation have to keep that data forever? What right do they have on how to utilize that data? What rights doe the users surrender in using them?
So, anyway, because I’m getting into photography and seem to be inching towards a photography business, I thought I should buy small thumb drives in bulk. I found a box of ten for about six and a half bucks per drive, so I can load photos to them for my clients and give them away. As close as this technology is to being obsolete, though, it was in the same isle as RW-DVD’s and CD’s. Many computers today don’t even have CD or DVD drives. This is truly old technology, and I can’t help but wonder if they’re just trying to get rid of fifteen-year-old stock.
Then I saw it. A converter to transfer cassette to DVD. Can you imagine? A converter to move data from one obsolete medium to another slightly less and yet still obsolete medium.
Okay, if you still have a cassette player, or DVD drive (as I do), don’t be offended. The point is not to make fun of these mediums, or those who still use them. They’re still valid, and new technology does not make previous technologies any less useful than they ever were. I am still running two tower computers from the ‘90’s, and they still serve their purpose just as efficiently as they ever have. I have a laptop with a DVD drive, and even an external RW-DVD drive. And yet, it was just odd to see so much obsolete technology all in one place, and it frankly made me kind of sad.
The reality is that I was around for all of this now-obsolete technology. I remember 8-track tapes, Beta-Max, and yes, even used them both. I remember the internet before the Web. Today many people don’t even know what the difference is, including several computer science faculty members I have known through the years. It’s like a technological clock, betraying my age from Beta-Max to 3-D printing. It all still works, it’s all just as efficient and capable as it ever has been (if you can still find working machines) but knowing that 8-track actually means four tracks but each in stereo dates you. It’s not a bad thing, I guess. The alternative is worse. But if you’re young, keep an eye on technology, and remember that there will be a day that you will be in my shoes.