analogue roots, digital futures

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.

Catching up on Copenhagen

Coverage of the conference on climate change is muted. Usually the media loves promoting dramatic pictures of icebergs collapsing into the sea as evidence for global warming. But it’s all quiet.

If our carbon footprints are heading us towards doomsday, you would expect Copenhagen to be daily news. The absence of headline coverage is suspicious. It suggests official confusion as to which climate change lobby has it right – the believers or the sceptics. In the face of their conflicting evidence it’s difficult to know what to believe. But you would think that regardless of the science, we can’t treat our planet with disrespect and there be no consequences. I side with the global warmers and instinctively feel that our planet is a beautiful, self regulating place. We’re lucky to live here. The power of nature is uncontrollable and we should respect that. I have less sympathy for the sceptics; I’m suspicious of their connections with multinational corporations. The argument that changes are not only exaggerated, but natural and cyclical, sit ill with vested interests in encouraging us to carry on regardless.

Landfill worries me. Buried batteries poison the earth; as do plastic and polystyrene. It’s difficult to see how chemicals discharged into rivers, or deforestation and agricultural practices right on our doorsteps, are not affecting the ecosystem. Even closer to home is the absence of bees. Copenhagen is too far away; heads of governments too concerned with themselves to care about the planet. Change has to begin at home. Change the way we shop, cook, recycle, grow vegetables. The most wasteful time of the year is fast approaching. As we throw away all the packaging, and other Christmas debris,  spare a thought for the planet and resolve to be green.