One prediction of the future that we make all the time, concerning just about anything, is regarding a particular thing’s demise. We think of a certain object as being on life support at the verge of being pulled. However, 9 times out of 10 (after all 3 out of 4 experts say a made up stat is as good as a real one), we are dead wrong (no pun intended). Rather, that object lingers like a zombie, or like a 80′s horror villain that keeps coming back to life in another sequel.
As can be seen in the cartoon to my left, two of those objects are the broom (even though the vacuum was invented decades ago) and the book (still also managing despite the explosive success of e-books).
Not only are books hard to kill, but paper in general. There is a company known as Xerox PARC (now just PARC), that was the research and development division of Xerox, founded in 1970.
The major motivation behind much of PARC’s research was Xerox’s paranoia that computers were going to put an end to paper, which Xerox’s business relied upon.
We have them to thank for some of the most awesome innovations in computer technology that we enjoy today such as laser printing, Ethernet, Graphical User Interfaces (including the invention of the mouse), and something know as object oriented programming that you need a computer science background to appreciate, but is still highly significant.
Now back to the point. Fast forward to the year 2014 and paper is plenty alive and well, raining down upon us relentlessly. Our cars, which don’t fly by the way, are still fueled by gasoline. Downloadable and streaming media are still a far cry from killing optical disks (largely due to licensing stubbornness of the big six media companies, but that’s another can of worms for another day). We still use shovels and also what we now call “dumb phones”. Three seashells will never replace toilet paper (for those who know that reference). Some predict that desktop machines are doomed, because of mobile devices, but I think they’ll stay around, due to the advantages a static and stationary machine “serve” (if you catch my drift). There’s all kinds of examples of these “undead” objects lurking.
Part of what led my interest to wane in the Jubex Cube game that I was developing was that I found myself agreeing with the comments on Steam Greenlight that say, “Meh, I’ll stick with a real cube.” Throughout the development of the game, any time I felt like playing with puzzle cubes, did I turn to my game? The so called high tech version? No, but rather I preferred holding the actual physical object in my hand. This is part of the reason physical books persist in being live and well in defiance of convenient e-books.
So is it necessarily a bad thing that old tech is hard to kill? No, but rather whatever that serves us the best should be what prevails. Therefore, not only is obsolescence a myth, but also futurism, overall.