Short Life and Death on the Technology Frontier

Macworld published an article called “10 Obsolete Technologies to Kill in 2010.” Number 1 on the list was Fax machines. It pointed out some silliness I hadn’t considered–that FAX documents begin life digitally, get converted to paper, get converted back into digital form for transmission, then get printed out on the receiving end on paper.

For instance: I create a digital Microsoft Word document. I print it out, so I can Fax it. The Fax machine scans the paper, converting it back to digital. It goes over the phone lines, and pops out from a Fax machine as a very low-quality paper document. Someone then types the information from the document back into a computer.

The easier solution: just email it. Keep it digital, and save some trees.

The rest of the list of obsolete technologies:

2. Cigarette lighters in cars. They usually don’t have lighters anymore, but serve as electrical outlets. “Almost nobody smokes in their cars. Almost everybody carries phones and gadgets that need power in their cars.” So replace this relic from the 1920s with a standard electrical outlet or a USB port.

3. WWW. We don’t need those letters at the beginning of web addresses.

4. Business cards. These are becoming obsolete…but not yet.

5. Movie rental stores. Pam and I, as Netflix people, haven’t stood in line at a movie store for 8 years. “Standing lin line? For an electronic file? come on!”

6. Home entertainment remotes. We’ve all got too many of them. The author suggests that apps in mobile phones would work much better.

7. Landline phones. These are obviously on the way out, at least for homes, as people use just their cell phone.

8. Music CDs. They are environmentally unfriendly, fragile, inconvenient, and have no significant advantages over downloaded music files. Everyone should move to an all-digital library.

9. Satellite radio. I didn’t agree with the author, who obviously doesn’t drive much. I wouldn’t want to give up my XM.

10. Redundant registration. You know, providing contact info, username, and password at site after site. People are working on this, but it may be a while.

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