sue watling

Check out the RewindVintageMuseum  Those of us in the digital age, with analogue roots, are a unique generation. We remember a different time, when mobile technology meant a transistor radio. A time before the marriage of the words media and digital. As media technology developed so we possessed it greedily.  Stored away in lofts and attics we probably still do, unable to let go because of the memories it contains. Our first LPs, compilation cassettes, family video tapes and boxes of photograph albums. As analogue evolved into digital, this memorabilia has become archaic. It represents a life that has moved on. We have the media but can no longer access the message.  

Digital media is one dimensional. You can’t get attached to a mp3 track. It isn’t significant like an album cover. There’s no personal investment. A download won’t increase in value or become collectable. Those days are gone.

What will be the memorabilia of the future? An empty digital photo frame? We laugh at the Betamax VCR but it’s got no intrinsic value; like walkmans and ipods it was functional; with that function removed, it’s junk. Like old fridges and washing machines, it begs the question of what to do with redundant technology. Future focus may be on content rather than means of transmission. Single, not multiple, devices could answer problems with waste. Individuality would derive from the customisation of virtual portals, My Space style, meaning we wouldn’t just access digital data, we’d have to learn to work with it too.

A Digital Britain needs to recycle more efficiently. Especially electronics and their packaging. So much of what we throw away this Christmas will end up in landfill. That’s not sustainable practice. The invisibility of virtual delivery has to be something to celebrate; inevitably the next step will be to reduce the means by which we access it.



1 Comment so far

  1. Profile photo of Julian Beckton   Julian Beckton on January 2, 2010 11:38 am      

    Hmm. I’m not sure that redundant technology has no intrinsic value. That’s why we have museums surely – to learn from it. But, I do agree that the mass production and consumption of these technologies is problematic in terms of landfill, peak oil, and possibly global warming. (Not sure that last one is going to matter, if we run out of oil!) The problem with the suggestion of a single device seems to me to be largely economic. If companies couldn’t sell pointless devices that do something a bit different from the previous model, they’d go bust! Capitalism requires that we throw away technology in order to reinvent it. Not sure people are quite ready for a cash free lifestyle yet! (See today’s Guardian Weekend magazine for an account of just that – can’t find it online I’m afraid.)

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