What Is Obsolete?

What Is Obsolete?
By William L. Bulla

What is obsolete...or, nearly so? As we enter the second decade of the new millennium, we can look back at many changes in the way we live. Some of these began in the first ten years of this century, while others had nearly disappeared before the century began. Many of these changes have been the result of modern technology; others reflect changes in our life styles.
Technology has changed our methods of communication. Text messaging (or texting) is a form of communication, somewhere between emailing, IMing and phoning, replacing calling on the telephone. Landlines, in homes, are being eliminated and people are using cell phones. And cell phones have morphed into Palms, Blackberries, iPhones, Droids and the latest, the Google phone, all offering GPS, Wi-Fi, Mp3, Bluetooth, email, web connection and camera. These devices all connect to the social networking sites Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, Linkedin, Flickr, Bebo, Blogster and more than 200 others. (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_social_networking_websites) It's a whole new world of communications.
Years ago, I worked my way through college selling Encyclopedia Britannica door to door. Today the world is using Wikipedia, Google, Yahoo, Bing and many other search engines available on their computer. Today you can read the latest novel on a Kindle or Sony Reader digital book, a hand-held electronic book. What will happen to the public library? Google is in the process of attempting to digitize all the books in the world.
As we grow older we see many changes that some of the adults of today would not know about. For example, I mentioned "box cameras" to a young man in his mid 20's to have him ask, "What's that?" But he was able to tell me all about the digital cameras replacing the film cameras, how they operate instantly and eliminates the cost of having to develop film. He went on to say that he has stopped buying music CD's and now downloads Mp3 digital music files to his iPod.
And, talking about things online, you no longer have to "let your fingers do the walking" to get phone numbers from the Yellow Pages. Programs are available online to provide that service quickly for phone numbers throughout our nation. Also, the computer has caused a reduction in hand-written letters, "Thank You" cards, notes, etc. that we have been so accustomed to sending as they are now being sent online.
A few yeas ago, many businesses allowed employees one day a week to dress casual. Now we are seeing casual business wear every day of the week. Having worked in sales in years past, it was required that male sales people wear necktie and coat every day. Now sales persons, both male and female, greet you in jeans and T-shirts. Oh, yes, they also wear what in my day was called "tennis shoes." Recently, a female told me that she had trouble finding a good selection of "panty hose." I don't know whether technology has replaced that item of apparel or if it is a shift in fashion trends.
Recently I went out to buy some light bulbs to find more and more LED bulbs that are supposed to last 20-times longer than the ones I have been using. Maybe that's a good thing. Now LED Christmas tree lights offer to reduce power consumption by 80 percent.
And we have to get accustomed to changes in our language. "We" used to refer to me, you and a group of friends. Now we have a word pronounced "we", but spelled "Wii." It is an interactive computer driven game console used with your television to allow you to play a variety of games (golf, tennis, boxing) against a competitor right in your living room.
As we look at life styles, we see some states are allowing marriage other than between men and women. Did you ever expect such a thing possible just a decade ago?
I'm sure we will see other changes in the days ahead. For a number of years we have thought a fax machine was a wonderful item. But what can the fax machine do that can't be done online on your computer, or on your cell phone? Will it be next? How about that cigarette lighter in your car? As people cut back on smoking, is it being replaced by a power outlet to accommodate some of the new technology being used in todays, and future, autos?
I'm sure I have missed items that may come to your mind, both those that have gone away, as well as those that may leave us in the near future. But we don't want to be too critical of those items that are obsolete because each year we, as individuals, are also following that path.