Will these last our lifetimes?

An email from a friend included this list of nine things that will disappear in our lifetimes:

Whether these changes are good or bad depends in part on how we adapt to them. But, ready or not, here they come:

1. The Post Office: Get ready to imagine a world without the post office. They are so deeply in financial trouble that there is probably no way to sustain it long term. Email, Couriers, Fed Ex, and UPS have just about wiped out the minimum revenue needed to keep the post office alive. Most of your mail every day is junk mail and bills.

2. The cheque :Britain is already laying the groundwork to do away with cheque by 2018. It costs the financial system billions of dollars a year to process cheques. Plastic cards and online transactions will lead to the eventual demise of the cheque. This plays right into the death of the post office. If you never paid your bills by mail and never received them by mail, the post office would absolutely go out of business.

3. The Newspaper: The younger generation simply doesn’t read the newspaper. They certainly don’t subscribe to a daily delivered print edition. That may go the way of the milkman, butcher, baker and fruit and vege man. As for reading the paper online, get ready to pay for it. The rise in mobile Internet devices and e-readers has caused all the newspaper and magazine publishers to form an alliance. They have met with Apple, Amazon, and the major cell phone companies to develop a model for paid subscription services.

4. The Book: You say you will never give up the physical book that you hold in your hand and turn the literal pages. Many said the same thing about downloading music from iTunes because they wanted hard copy CD.  When they discovered they get albums for half the price without ever leaving home to get the latest music they changed their minds. The same thing will happen with books. You can browse a bookstore online and even read a preview chapter before you buy. And the price is less than half that of a real book. Just think of the convenience! Once you start flicking your fingers on the screen instead of the book, you find that you are lost in the story, can’t wait to see what happens next, and you forget that you’re holding a gadget instead of a book.

I’ve read only one book on an iPad. It was light, portable, easy to read and could be read without a light but I still prefer real books.

5. The Land Line Telephone: Unless you have a large family and make a lot of local calls, you don’t need it anymore. Most people keep it simply because they’ve always had it. But you are paying double charges for that extra service. All the cell phone companies will let you call customers using the same cell provider for no charge against your minutes

6. Music: This is one of the saddest parts of the change story. The music industry is dying a slow death. Not just because of illegal downloading. It’s the lack of innovative new music being given a chance to get to the people who would like to hear it. Greed and corruption is the problem.  The record labels and the radio conglomerates are simply self-destructing. Over 40% of the music purchased today is “catalogue items,” meaning traditional music that the public is familiar with. Older established artists. This is also true on the live concert circuit. To explore this fascinating and disturbing topic further, check out the book, “Appetite for Self-Destruction” by Steve Knopper, and the video documentary, “Before the Music Dies.”

I hope this is unnecessarily pessimistic, the music industry will change but surely music will prevail.

7. Television: Revenues to the networks are down dramatically. Not just because of the economy. Many people are watching TV and movies streamed from their computers. And they’re playing games and doing lots of other things that take up the time that used to be spent watching TV. Prime time shows have degenerated down to lower than the lowest common denominator. Cable rates are skyrocketing and commercials run about every 4 minutes and 30 seconds. It’s time for the cable companies to be put out of our misery. People will choose what they want to watch online and through Netflix.

8.  The “Things” That You Own: Many of the very possessions that we used to own are still in our lives, but we may not actually own them in the future. They may simply reside in “the cloud.” Today your computer has a hard drive and you store your pictures, music, movies, and documents. Your software is on a CD or DVD, and you can always re-install it if need be.. But all of that is changing. Apple, Microsoft, and Google are all finishing up their latest “cloud services.” That means that when you turn on a computer, the Internet will be built into the operating system. So, Windows, Google, and the Mac OS will be tied straight into the Internet. If you click an icon, it will open something in the Internet cloud. If you save something, it will be saved to the cloud. And you may pay a monthly subscription fee to the cloud provider. In this virtual world, you can access your music or your books, or your whatever from any laptop or handheld device. That’s the good news. But, will you actually own any of this “stuff” or will it all be able to disappear at any moment in a big “Poof?” Will most of the things in our lives be disposable and whimsical?  It makes you want to run to the cupboard and pull out that photo album, grab a book from the shelf, or open up a CD case and pull out the insert.

9. Privacy:  If there ever was a concept that we can look back on nostalgically, it would be privacy. That’s gone. It’s been gone for a long time anyway. There are cameras on the street, in most of the buildings, and even built into your computer and cell phone. But you can be sure that 24/7, “They” know who you are and where you are, right down to the GPS coordinates, and the Google Street View. If you buy something, your habit is put into a zillion profiles, and your ads will change to reflect those habits. “They” will try to get you to buy something else. Again and again.

Only time will tell if the list is right – but it made me think about things that have already gone in my lifetime:

* Records and record players – my parents had some old 78s,;my first musical purchase was a Simon and Garfunkel LP; and my brothers and I gave my father a 45 for a birthday. I still own a few LPs but nothing on which to play them.

* Telegrams – though there’s a modern replacement: Telegramstop.com.

* Dial telephones.

* Typewriters.

* Steam engines (except those in museums or others kept for historical purposes).

And some which are almost gone:

* Cameras which require films.

* Videos.

* Toasters that don’t pop-up.

* Canvas tents.


3 Responses to Will these last our lifetimes?

  1. Mike says:

    It is interesting to note that all the ‘replacements’ for your suggestions of what may not last our lifetimes, virtually without exception, require robust internet or cellphone access. Pity those of us who live in an ‘outback’ area (17km from a city of 30000 people, 7.5km from state highway 1, and 8km from the coast in my case) who live and do business in a cellphone ‘shadow’ where it is touch-and-go to make a cellphone call, let alone stream a movie!

  2. Colin McIntyre says:

    No9. Privacy?
    Funny thing though.Central & local Government plus many others would seem to be operating under increased Privacy.

  3. Steve D. says:

    ‘Once you start flicking your fingers on the screen instead of the book, you find that you are lost in the story,’

    Are you kidding me? My Kindle skips pages at random intervals, and then makes it hard to get back to where you were in the book. Sometimes it doesn’t respond when I tap it. If I want to flip back 50 pages it makes that difficult as well (tap tap tap tap tap; drives me nuts) rather than a continuous finger flip. It seems almost designed to frustrate the reader. These are some of the reasons why I seldom use it anymore. Another reason. The screens are not large enough for textbook figures etc or anything which requires two pages. And what about music?

    I suppose if you read a book from start to finish it might be ok, but that’s not a lot of fun. I’m always flipping to other places to evaluate plot devices, character consistency etc.

    Also, I know many people who simply do not have high speed internet access and so until that is universal, I don’t see any what you say happening, until that occurs.

    I pay about half my bills on line and about half by check. They take about the same amount of time.

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