How has our world changed over the years? Digital technology is so prevalent today that we may not think about what we have lost. Do we really know what we have given up, or are we like the frog in the kettle of water? Sitting in this pot of water, we do not appear to realize the temperature is rising and where we started out is not where we started. What was familiar is no longer around and something different has taken its place.
We are all familiar with the big changes like expanding air travel to space travel. We have come to embrace change like what has happened with the introduction of home computers. However, have we really come to understand the impact these new inventions have had on our lives? In this article, it is my intent to bring to awareness some of those changes. Recognizing some of the things we do not have ready access to today may prompt us to look for alternatives before they are completely gone.
Digital technology changes and their impact:
Residential Landline Telephones The number of landline telephones in our homes is quickly diminishing. What was commonplace just a few short years ago is now a rarity. The advent of the cordless phone freed us from the tether of the wall or desk phone. We could now use the phone anywhere on our property. Cell phones freed us up even more. Now, we can communicate no matter where we are as long as there is a wireless signal. Digital technology finally did away with the having to stay home and wait for that important call from friends, family, Dr., or others. With the loss of the landline telephone, we also lost the answering machine. Now we have voice messaging.
VHS tapes and VCR’s Many of us had reels of 8mm home videos at the time VHS camcorders became popular. Almost overnight, our 8mm film became obsolete and the only way to preserve that fragile film was to have a commercial vendor transfer the film to VHS. Today, the number of machines that will playback VHS tapes is decreasing while the use of CD’s and DVD’s is increasing. Soon, the means to transfer our VHS tapes to this media may very well disappear except for commercial vendors. Digital technology has once again moved, possibly leaving us in the dust.
Classified Advertisements Many of us can remember when looking for employment meant spending hours exploring the classified ads in the local newspaper. After identifying the positions we were interested in, mailing cover letters and resumes became our focus and completing job applications at the employer’s location was expected. The majority of the employment ads appeared in the Sunday edition with diminishing returns throughout the week. Today, finding these position listings on the internet is much easier than finding them in print media. Losing employment related classified advertising, along with general advertising, has placed a stress on print media with many businesses having to cease operations. Digital technology has changed the way we look for work and even how we apply for that once in a lifetime job.
Automobile High Beam Dimmer Switch For most generations alive today, this is a non-issue. Members of the Baby Boomer generation will probably remember the dimmer switch on the left side of the floorboard on the driver’s side. With oncoming traffic, a quick flick with the tip of the foot and your high beams were instantly shift to low beams and when the traffic was past a second flick of the foot brought out the high beams once again. With this function relegated to a hand control, it is easy to exercise this safety feature, especially since we do not always have both hands on the steering wheel. For some high end vehicles, digital technology may have created sensors that automatically adjust headlight output, but many of the cars today still have a lever on the steering column.
Music Preservation Another technological change is associated with the preservation of our old analog music recordings. Often found in the form of 78, 33 1/3, and 48 rpm records, these old favorites and classical music may not be found on the new digital media. We do not have to let these tunes sit away in unused collections like many 8 track cartridges. Today there are means to transfer these songs to our computer. Once on the computer, we can then move them on to other digital media storage devices such as MP3 music players. Although digital technology is advancing at a rapid pace in audio presentation and preservation, there is still a method for the individual consumer to preserve and playback those stacks of vinyl records just sitting around collecting dust.
Digital technology is changing our everyday lives. We need to be vigilant about the things we value today because the means to enjoy them may not be available tomorrow unless we keep on top of technology available for the transition. Do you have old files or photos stored on the floppy discs from a few years ago? The only way to retrieve them now may only be through commercial sources. Even our favorite CD’s could be replaced with some other kind of digital technology. Even today, much of our music is downloaded from the internet.