Now im not old by any stretch of the imagination. But today I was made to feel incredibly incredibly old. Why? Well because I was one of only 3 people in a lecture hall full (actually full- not one spare seat and people were even sitting on the stairs) who had actually used let alone heard of a microfiche. That’s outrageous. As some of you may be aware if you follow me on twitter, I started a new job last week. I’m now a researcher type person at UCL, in the Department of Information Studies. I’m currently doing some work on how academic communities use twitter but that’s another story. The great part about my job is that if I don’t understand something (which is happening quite often- info studies… is quite far removed from archaeology and museumy things, there’s a lot of lingo that I need to pick up and consolidate quite quickly), there is most likely a lecture about it. Yay! So off I went to the first electronic publishing lecture of the year. Now this is a Masters lecture, I’m only a few years older than the students in this class. In fact I did my Masters at UCL in 2006, so I know how they are feeling. But by gum. I wasn’t expecting to outdate them by like a century!
That aside it was a very interesting lecture. The historical development of electronic publishing was discussed. I hadn’t really thought of electronic publishing at all. ever. Even though I use it every day and have used it for a very long time. You tend not to think about the general things that you take for granted and use on a daily basis. The fact that these everyday objects develop and then decline has really passed me by. But when you think about it, we as a culture, are obsessed with technological upgrades. So from microfiche and microfilm to floppy disc, to CD to a memory stick and now bypassing that all together the cloud.
But when these objects are superseded by another, is it really a decline into Obsolescence (vocab points for me)? There’s a lot of hype about the Electric Revolution. Things may have been superseded by, Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger equipment/applications/things but some are making a come back! The Polaroid for example http://www.the-impossible-project.com/ is it just nostalgia? Or are the things that were once forgotten, coming back round again, just like fashion.
Do we need to be instantly-gratified? Do we have to be immersed in digital culture? What’s wrong with a tape deck, a corded phone, and a book? I for one am going to hunt out my ghetto blaster, put on my run dmc shelltoes and take my photo, and then wait for the film to be jolly well developed.
(image from http://mechanicrobotic.wordpress.com/)