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As time goes by……



Sometimes in life you have a moment of pure full-on clarity and you realise how much everything has moved on.  Sure we are all cognisant of the “digital age” of web 2.0, web 3.0 blah blah blah.  But these are ethereal concepts that monopolise technology pages and blend into relative insignificance through their repetitive nature.  Nothing hits you harder between the eyes than cold, real life examples.

I was in the car last night taking the family out for a meal for mothers’ day.  It is rare that I am driving anywhere on a Sunday night and normally we are at home with the hatches battened down preparing for the week ahead, a glass of wine to hand.  And because I only tend to listen to the radio in the car, it is also rare that I listen to radio on a Sunday evening.

 Last night for the first time in, well a very, very, very long time I listened to the Top 40.  The moment I realised what it was, I turned to my wife and asked, “did you used to listen to this as a kid?” and we started a conversation about lying in bedrooms listening to the radio to hear the songs that were up and coming, the artists that you liked, the artists you were supposed to like and the artists that even to this day I have never understood why any vinyl was ever given over the propagation of their music.

 I used to sit with a tape recorder next to the radio, waiting for the songs I liked to come on so that I could record them to listen to later in the week.  Not connected to the radio mind you (although that did come later) but next to it, the play and record buttons pressed down, my finger on pause.  The smells of the Sunday roast cooking, trying to make sure my brother didn’t come into the room by accident in the middle of a song, hoping the DJ wouldn’t talk over the end of the track…..Interestingly I was once told that they did that to stop people recording the songs, if that is true it didn’t work, but it did make me loathe them with a passion.

 Compare and contrast with earlier in the day when my ten-year old was talking to me about a song.  He said one of the kids at badminton had been singing it, something about “Fireflies”.  We took his laptop, and I showed him Last FM where he searched and found the song, listened to it, and listened to other things like it.  Twenty minutes later he came back to me and asked whether it was ok to download an album (are they still called that?) on to his iPod.  He had some credit from an e-voucher that he received for his birthday and a few minutes later he had downloaded JLS (…..he’s ten ok!….) and was away listening.

 I’m not old, it wasn’t a million years ago that I was there with my tape recorder, but things have moved on so fast.  On the train this morning, I worked out I bought my first CD in 1990 which was the Hothouse Flowers after seeing them perform at Glastonbury.  I bought that CD (a format that is in decline) in Boots, a shop that no longer sells music.  The fact that it feels like only yesterday may be about my age, or it may be about the speed of change.  You only have to look at the first generation iPods to realise how much has moved on.

 With technology moving at such speed, the future remains so unpredictable.  We cannot know what impacts it will have on our work lives or on our personal lives.  The moment we have started to understand the latest developments we are already out of date.  It kind of leaves me nostalgic and longing for Sunday nights spent with my finger on the pause button and falling asleep with dreams inspired by Tomorrow’s World, but I guess that’s not an option.  That is the reality we are facing, like it or not.  As quickly as we became the future so we are also becoming the past. 

Bring it on JLS, I’m ready for you…..I hope.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. 03/15/2010 14:40

    I used to record songs from the radio, too. We lived in Panama and the only English language station we got was the armed forces radio, which played a little bit of everything. On Saturdays, we would listen to the top 40 and would record it, even though Kasey Kasem would talk over the songs. Alas, the cassettes we copied over were the ones my dad had used when he was in Vietnam – he would send letters to my mom that way and make up stories for my siblings and me. At that point, they were just old useless cassettes, but I sure wish I had those original tapes with my dad’s voice now.

    The Hothouse Flowers are wonderful. I saw them when they came to Austin. They weren’t big enough to book a huge venue – they played in this small bar so it was easy to hear them. I wore out my tape and got a replacement CD a few years ago.

    At book club the other night, some of the older people were complaining that nobody writes letters any more. That is pretty much true – but that doesn’t mean that people aren’t communicating. The technology changes and lets us do amazing things we never could have thought of 20 years ago, like read the blog of someone we’ve never met across the pond.

  2. 03/16/2010 00:25

    Everything is changing? Tell that to the inventor of THE ABACUS. Tell that to ALAN TURING.

    But they are both dead.

  3. 03/16/2010 03:10

    I somehow love the fact that there’s something new around every corner…

  4. 03/17/2010 09:02

    Great post – these are the experiences I had when I was younger. I went on to do a lot of DJing so have mountains of vinyl. Your post makes me wonder about two things 1) what will our children feel nostalgic about in the future and 2) what does this mean for our workplaces – i feel nostalgic about my early mix tapes (cassettes) and I sit next to someone who has grown up with digital music. What a strange mix of outlooks/expectations all in one place. Delighted to see Maplin does a machine that digitises old tapes 🙂

  5. 03/17/2010 09:35

    @the gold digger – Wow, that is a real loss, although as you say when we are younger we sometimes don’t value things in the same way. As for letter writing, I agree but for some reason a letter arriving through the post is always more exciting than an email…..

    @Fernandomando – Your randomness continues unabashed!

    @mkeefer – I consider myself a luddite!

    @Martin – Welcome and thanks for commenting! Those points are really interesting, I only wish I had the answers! As for cassettes, I got one of those Maplin gadgets for Christmas, I am just scared about the time commitment required to go through the old tapes!

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